I am a distinguished alumna! No… Seriously!

A few years ago (in June) there was a Vermont College of Fine Arts party at American Library Association’s conference that I was completely stressed about? It was at Tami Lewis Brown’s House. Katherine Paterson was there and I had no idea what I was supposed to say if I actually met Katherine Paterson.

I mean, what do you say to someone who wrote THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA?

1. You made me cry
2. You made me make my own fantasy world in the woods in my backyard.
3. No, really you made me sob.
4. Can I have 1/100th of your talent?
5. Gasp! Chortle! Squee!

Well, I did NOT make a fool of myself about Katherine Patterson. And I didn’t avoid the author M. T. Anderson even though he’s so tall I find it intimidating.

And I ended up having to wear my cardigan the whole time because my dress was way too cleavage-y.

How do I know this? I know this because the doorman at the hotel  stared at it and asked if I wanted to hang out. Really. And I am a children’s book author! I am supposed to be not the type of person the doorman thinks he can ask out.

I think part of the problem was I told him I loved him when he ran after the shuttle bus for me. Bad Carrie! Bad! 

Side note: Don’t tell random people you love them even when you do love them in that moment.

Anyway, I went to the party and my hair was flat and I had a cardigan on even though it was 98 degree.

And then… and then…

Katherine and Tami made speeches about the awesomeness of Vermont College. I think Tobin may have too.

And then… And then…

They gave Kekla Magoon of awesome an award for being a distinguished alumna and she cried and was beautiful and I pet her on the back and tried to comfort her while thinking how awesome she is and then….

And then…

I GOT ONE TOO!

Seriously! I don’t know what they were thinking, but I was awarded a plaque and everything and I almost died because I kept thinking, “People are going to take pictures and I am wearing my dumpy cardigan to hide my cleavage AND my hair is flat. Crud. Crud. Crud. Why did nobody tell me?”

But it was amazing.

The whole time I kept thinking that I wouldn’t even be a writer if not for the people at Vermont College and how there are so many amazing graduates who deserved that award, and I kept looking out there in the crowd and seeing those amazing writers, and it was so completely humbling. 

But then I also thought about how terrified I was when I first started at Vermont. Some people were already published. I had barely written one book. I felt – no, I knew – that I didn’t belong and I almost quit that first week because I knew there was no way I could possibly belong there with all those people who had been writing for forever and who knew all the terms like objective correlative and who all the publishing houses, and I knew nothing.

I didn’t believe in myself at all.

Lisa Jahn Clough and Emily Wing Smith and Ed Briant (who said something awesome at a reading to me) then Tim Wynne Jones were the reasons I toughed it out that first semester. I am so very glad I did because Vermont didn’t just make me into a writer it gave me a community of fellowship, of learning and of people who I adore (even if they are tall). 

I am still trying to make it so I can deserve that award. I really am. 

More than that though, I want to make it so everyone can get that kind of dumpy cardigan moment, to get loved and recognized. It might be for running after a shuttle bus. It might be for making a children’s book, but we get to choose who we are, how we interact with the world, who we can be.

I want so badly for everyone to choose empathy, to choose their own power, to choose to make the right choices. I want everyone to feel that love and recognition that I was lucky enough to feel that June.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

Some Men Aren’t Meant to Wear Scarves, So Be Your Own Style and Don’t Pretend to Be Tom Cruise Or Bieber

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Facing Your Fears

I make a big deal about being brave. That’s because I have a lot of anxiety about certain things:

LIST OF BIG THINGS I HAVE MAJOR ANXIETY ABOUT

  1. My voice
  2. Being in videos
  3. Showing art
  4. Dead clowns reanimating.
  5. People I love dying.

Anyway, I’m pretty open about the things that make me nervous and over on Facebook, I’ve been having Be Brave Fridays where I do something that I am uncomfortable about and encourage others to be brave, too.

So, what I’m really uncomfortable about is showing my art. That’s because of a couple things:

  1. It’s really personal
  2. I’m not trained
  3. My mother.

As I told a lovely woman that I met on Friday night, “My mom was amazing, but she had really defined notions of what our family could and couldn’t do.”

The lady said, “Oh, I get this. My mother is the same way. I get this.”

According to my Mother, If we were going to create things, it was supposed to be:

  1. Meat-based meals
  2. Babies.
  3. Writing
  4. Music.

She said to me on multiple occasions when I was little, “Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.”

But I really wanted to draw straight lines and make comics and paintings. I knew there was no point though.

None of us can draw a straight line.

I spent years and years wishing I could draw or paint. I spent years and years wishing I could make images without words.

Not an artistic bone.

When I was divorcing, I gave in and bought paint. I would stay up late into the night, painting. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was the only way I could think to get my emotions out into the world so that they wouldn’t fester inside of me.

It didn’t matter that they sucked because nobody would see them. I would paint over canvasses because I didn’t have enough money to buy more canvas. I would paint on newspaper pages (not a good idea), on the backs of old-fashioned notebooks, on anything.

Not an artistic bone in my body?

It seemed pretty true.

I became a writer and I wrote novels, but sometimes I would still get these images in my head. I would need to get them out.

So, I’d trudge down into the basement and paint.

It’s cold in the basement. The kitty litter box is in the basement. It’s easy to hide down in that basement. I hid.

Sometimes when I get stuck in a story, or can’t work out its theme, I paint.

Sometimes when I get lost inside my emotions, I paint.

A woman said to me on Friday, “You wrote all these books, too? I have never met anyone who is good at both before.”

And I laughed and was all self-disparaging and said, “You still haven’t.”

She gave me a look and said, “Oh, honey. Yes, I have.”

Oh, honey. Yes, I have.

Even writing that now? It makes me get all teary-eyed.

Painting is the places inside of me where I can’t make words work, where I can’t get things to express themselves via writing, so I have to go deeper.

There are places that are deeper than words.

It’s hard to show that to the world especially when:

  1. You haven’t been trained
  2. Nobody in your family can draw a straight line
  3. There’s not an artistic bone in your body.
  4. You live in a world where being vulnerable and authentic is often derided and scorned.

I started Be Brave Fridays because I was tired of hiding. I posted paintings even though I was positive not one single person would be kind. But people were kind and one person, Aymie Walsh (co-owner of CoeSpace in Bangor) sent me a message and asked me if I wanted to be in an Art Walk.

An Art Walk is a thing where people go from site to site and check out different artists. It all takes place during a set time period in a location like a city or downtown.

When Aymie sent me that message? I thought she might be punking me. I texted my daughter and she said, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

My daughter is the bravest human I know. She’s faced all her fears now. She’s a field artillery officer. She went to Harvard. She’s jumped off buildings. She’s survived me being her mother.

Yes, there is a dog hanging out in the corner.

So, I said yes.

I said yes even though I kept hearing those phrases, wrapping themselves around my heart, over and over again.

Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.

I was an anxious wreck all last Friday. I had one of those existential life crisis moments where I didn’t know why I bothered to exist at all. I was a punk all day. I had so many fears.

So many.

Then we put up all my paintings on the beautiful white walls of CoeSpace. And something inside me shattered.

This could not be real.

I expected nobody to come. I expected people to mock me to my face. I expected to hear those same sentences only slightly twisted around.

You don’ t have an artistic bone in your body. You can’t even draw a straight line.

What are you trying to do?

Here’s the thing though. Nobody said those words to me.

But here’s the bigger thing. Even if they had said those words? They don’t get to make those words real. Only I get to make those words real. Only I get to have that power over who I am and what I want to be.

That’s something I have to learn over and over again in my life. That’s something that I have to remember and paint through because that realization? It’s a heart realization. It’s a soul realization. And it’s too big for words.

There are much better things to tell ourselves, to sing into our stories, and to bind our hearts with.

Oh, honey. Yes, you have.

Those words.

Those words made me braver. Aymie made me braver. My poor, sweet family that dealt with me all day? They made me braver.

I want you to be brave, too. Go after the person you want to be, okay? Sing out your story in the melodies that you want to hear. Become.

Become.

You can. You have. You will.

Over and over again.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


Art News

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

Five Random Things Men Have Done That Made Me Go ‘Ick.’

I was once driving Em to school and Bob and Sheri, this talk show, was on the radio and they were having callers talk about what is a huge turn-off. You know, what is it when you are on a date that makes a great big red light flash in your head and you go: WHOA! THIS DUDE/DUDETTE IS NOT FOR ME!


I’ve had a lot of these moments. *Cough. Cough* However, I’ve decided to make a top five list. Yes, I am limiting myself to five and I’m not actually writing anything super physically threatening here because it’s Monday and you can only handle so much on a Monday.

I think all genders can learn from this advice actually.


TOP FIVE THINGS MEN/BOYS HAVE DONE OR SAID TO ME THAT MADE ME GO ICK!So Don’t do these things, people.


*Note: All of these have actually happened to me before.

1. Finding a restraining order under the front seat of his car on your first date.

Actually, my dog found this, and I had to take it out of his doggy mouth because he would not let go of it. Let’s just say protection orders are never good. Hidden protection orders that your dog is drooling on? Those are the worst.

2. He has an apartment with absolutely no pictures on the walls, no knick knacks, no litter, no nothing.

Nothing says serial killer like this. Honestly, I was looking for big, blue tarps and duct tape.

3. He possesses the inability to get food in  his mouth and instead gets it in your hair, my hair, your chin, the table, the floor, etc….

It’s just gross. Plus, it’s a waste of food. 

4. Telling me I look like a bag lady. Not charming.

Seriously. Maine is cold in winter. Sometimes you have to layer. A lot. 

5. Telling me that I look like a good breeder because even though I don’t have hips, I’m pale and I have blue eyes. Sorry. Racists and guys who think of women as ‘breeders’ are not a turn on. Ever
.

So what about you? Have you ever been on a date where you were like: Nope. Nuh-uh. Never again. 

You know I’m asking because I need story material, right? 🙂

May all your interactions be awesome ones, my friends!

WRITING NEWS

Art News

I’ll be at CoeSpace in Bangor on June 7 as an artist! I know! I know! I’m hyperventilating about it already.

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.

Carrie Jones Art for Sale
The Last Gods

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

Random Things People Said to Me at My Dad’s Funeral

My dad died a few years ago. He was an awesome hobbit dad. He lasted less than two weeks from his lung cancer diagnosis (which happened on the day of the Boston Marathon bombing).

My mom’s side of the family is known for having no chill, for being quick-tempered. My dad’s side is known for having absolutely no filters. That makes for an interesting funeral when you get all those people together and add in people who aren’t relatives? The dialogue is stuff that if I tried to make up, readers would say, “Nobody would say that.”

Random things people said to me at my father’s funeral: 

Older lady who no longer has a waist: “I once had a 19-inch waist. Really 19 inches. It was like that small. “

She then makes a six-inch circle with her hands.

Another older lady: “If I paid you, would you speak at my funeral? Is this your profession? Are you a professional speaker? My kids won’t be able to do half a good a job as you. “

Old man with bad teeth in a creepy way: “I still have my own teeth.” 

One of my relatives in a creepy way: “Wow. You look hot. Va-va-voom.” 

Middle-aged man in a super creepy way: “There are so many reasons that I’m alone. So alone. I’m alone. I never met your father.” 

Older man in a happy way: “I broke seven ribs. Seven. Damn. I’m an over achiever, aren’t I?”

Middle-aged woman: “I’m writing a book.”
Middle-aged woman: “You should go to Greece.”
Middle-aged woman: “Will you read my book? It’s about co-parenting.”

Younger person: “Why green eggs and ham though? Why not orange? You’re a writer, you should know that.” 

Younger person: “Your dad was the most honest, most kind man ever.” 

My aunt: “What’s your name again? Debbie? Betty? Emily? Carrie? Carrie! Who the hell is Carrie?”

I forgot how much material for books families can provide.

I hope you all have these sort of moments even in times of sadness, moments where you bring your whole heart and mind into a conversation, say what just comes out, meet people with compassion and love even when they show you their absolute worst selves and stand as solidly as you can when greeted by loss, or ignorance, or hate. Stay strong friends, okay?

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2-963x1024.jpeg

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 

Finding Hope Despite Everything

The clunky sound of metal hitting metal makes all the customers at The Wilderness turn to look out the restaurant’s big front glass windows and onto the Main Street of Colebrook, New Hampshire.

The waitress sprints out the front door, runs to one of the vehicle, which had been backing out of a parking space and into the path of a big, black truck that resembles almost all the big, black trucks people drive here in the northern tip of New Hampshire’s Great White Woods.

A driver’s getting out of the car. The waitress sprints back inside, clutching a young boy – less than a year old – to her chest. Her entire body’s shaking as she holds him, kissing his forehead, once, twice, too many times to count as his tiny bare feet dangle in the air, bumping against her waist.

“He was in the car. He was in the car.” Her words rush out so quickly as she walks in circles around the restaurant that’s really a diner. “He’s okay.”

“Is he okay?” An older man asks even though she just said it.

“He’s okay.” She says it like a mantra, repeating it over and over to make it true. “He’s okay.”

“It’ll all be okay,” the older woman with the older man says, warming the baby boy’s foot in her hands.

“Some day.” The server kisses her baby boy’s head one more time. “You got to have hope, right?”

“Soon,” the lady tells her. “Some day soon.”

It takes the server a half hour to stop shaking. She apologizes as she carries her baby around, taking orders, refilling water, bringing out food with her free hand. Even in that moment of extreme duress, this mom doesn’t stop. She won’t ever stop.

The Great North Woods

The Great North Woods of New Hampshire demands that you don’t stop. It’s a landscape carved in and out of mountains that requires grit to survive. It’s not a land of perfect white churches and 1950s-style New England movies featuring sleigh rides. It’s beautiful, yes, but the beauty is more rugged. The beauty is in the survival.

Presidential hopefuls come to the state, hoping to get a boost. But the state itself is pretty divided between the southern wealthier parts where I grew up and areas like here where houses put up their own make-shift billboards begging for change, struggling for hope.

As a kid in southern New Hampshire, I grew up poor in a town with rapidly increasing wealth. I had teachers tell me that there was no hope for me because my voice was ‘ridiculous.’ I had other teachers tell me that I could do anything.

I was never sure who to believe.

When credit card companies called my mom, I had to pretend she wasn’t home. When we sold our house, I had to pretend it was because we wanted to. When my nana stood in line for us and brought us government cheese, I had to pretend it was real cheese, special cheese from France, when a friend opened our fridge and saw it there.

I was ashamed of being poor, of my voice, of our circumstance.

I was stupid.

There’s nothing shameful about being poor. There’s nothing shameful about circumstances that you can’t control.

Drugs and Shame

While I’m up there, 17 North County residents are arrested in a drug trafficking sweep. Some are arrested outside the Wilderness. Most of the drugs arrests involve Suboxone and meth. At a classroom where I’m teaching for the week, we’re not allowed to talk about the bust because one of the kids is connected. Maybe more than one.

These kids? I’ve talked to thousands of kids, but these kids? They are my favorites.

There is nothing shameful in the mistakes your family members make. They aren’t your mistakes. They are theirs.

I want to somehow explain all that to them. I don’t know how.

Pittsburg is a tiny town without a grocery store and it’s about a half hour from Colebrook. The town has a library, but it’s inside the school and only open on Saturdays to the residents.

“We can’t take out enough books,” one student complains. “It’s so hard.”

Hard Possibilities

Lots of life is hard up here, where an entire eighth and seventh grade class combined is only eight students, where you’re in class with your cousin and everyone knows, as one student tells me, “everything about your life since you were born 25 weeks early.”

That hardness doesn’t mean you should pity them though. These kids are some of the liveliest individuals I’ve ever met, free and comfortable in asserting who they are, grit and all, and still striving for futures and hopes that are still possible.

They are still possible.

They write stories, act out scenes, share their own stories without the slightest bit of hesitation. Whether it’s the UFO sighting above Beaver Falls or the grandmother who had the best restaurant in the area, unless you didn’t finish your meal and then she’d sit on you, it’s all about connections and community and laughter.

Different Worlds

The northern parts of New Hampshire aren’t similar to southern New Hampshire. It’s not just about the geography. It’s also about the economy. The unemployment rate is higher, but the people are underemployed, working below their educations and skill sets. Stores are shuttered. There are no Starbucks or an easy to find McDonalds.

There are good things happening too. Robotech is about to hire 25 people at its new facility. There’s a proposal to make a community college in a place where there was once a mill. Snowmobilers come and so do summer tourists on ATVs.

But as one student tells me, “Sometimes it gets so lonely. It’s like the world forgets us.”

Another one nods, “I just can’t wait to get out.”

“Where will you go?” I ask.

“Anywhere. Anywhere.” She sits back in her chair, arms crossed, eyes toward the ceiling. Her face loses its hope.

“Maybe you could take that UFO over Beaver Falls,” another kid tells her.

They dissolve into teasing, giggles, and more stories. Kids again. Just kids. Momentarily not worrying about drug trafficking busts, the economy, getting away, but just laughing. The way it’s supposed to be. A way free of other people’s verdicts and edicts, no shame, no fear, just existing, just being who they are meant to be right now – kids.

READ MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

When You Don’t Have to Say Anything – The Magic of Step Dads and Living From Love Not Fear

It would have been so much easier for my tired dad to leave those girls at their homes, for me not to have a birthday party. He had an out. There was a blizzard.

There was blizzard on the same day as my 11thbirthday party. 

            My mom was packing back and forth across our cramped kitchen’s linoleum floors as one mother after another called to cancel because of the road conditions, the wind, the snow billowing down. The cabinets were old pine, so knotty that I’d use my fingers to draw faces in between the dark circles, connecting the blackness into eyes, a nose, a mouth, something less scary. I would have used a black magic marker to make those faces real if I could, but I wasn’t the type of kid who did that sort of thing. I was the type of kid who followed the rules, who hugged their friends, who cared about everyone’s feelings more than her own, trying desperately to fit in to a town that had exploded with wealth. 

Everyone was rich except us. You get used to that after awhile, but that doesn’t mean you’re ever cool with it. 

My mom wasn’t cool with it either and she always felt excluded and looked-down on. My dad built our ranch house sixteen years before I was born and back then our town was little and all lower working class people. Tractor salesmen were a big deal. Truckers like him were the norm. All the men volunteered at the fire department and everyone knew the three cops by name. My mom was the town clerk back then. But there was a bit of a tech bubble and all these people moved up from Massachusetts, building subdivisions filled with McMansions and wearing clothes that weren’t from K-Mart. We weren’t the norm anymore. We were below.

            And when my parents divorced, we became poor even after my mom and stepdad married because although he was a contractor, he’d moved all the way from California to marry her and he’d had to build up his business from scratch.  When he died was when my Nana would get government cheese for us. Mom would take the giant blocks with a grimace and Nana would say, “But you love cheese. You work hard.”

But this isn’t about my nana. This is about my bonus dad.

           On the blizzard day of my birthday party, his little green Toyota truck trundled up the hill towards the house, a Kermit-The-Frog colored beacon in the snow. Mom joined me at the picture window, arms crossed over her chest, staring out at him trying to make it up the hill, failing as the truck slid backwards a bit, trying again. 

 “I’m sorry, baby,” she whispered. 

“It’s okay,” I told her, but she knew I was lying. 

 Daddy parked the truck and started walking up the hill. She left me to meet him in the kitchen. I leaned my head against the cold pane of the window, listening. He stomped his boots free of the snow and then the whisperings started. I didn’t need to listen. I knew she was telling him about the cancellations, how I actually cried, which I was horrified about. There was the gross sound of lips smacking against each other. Kissing. Muffled noises of secret conversations sounded just below my hearing capabilities.

Daddy came into the living room. His socks were stained from where snow leaked into his boots. The snow line on his pants went up almost to his knees. He held his arms open and I ran into them. 

 “Hey, Miss America, you doing okay?” He had a gruff voice from decades of cigarettes, and it was soft spoken. Old people had to lean in sometimes when he talked, which wasn’t much. He never talked much.

“I’m okay.” I lied again. It was my favorite lie. 

 He kissed the top of my head. 

 “Your mom told me what’s going on.”

“Nobody can come.”

 “I know, I heard.” He bent down and pulled the sock off one foot, exposing dark skin, wiggling toes. Then he moved to the other. “She’s going to make some phone calls and we’re going to see if those scaredy-cat moms will let me go get their girls and bring them here.”

“Really?” I squealed.

 He handed me his wet socks and moved over to the couch. “Really. You get me some new socks, put those on the sink to dry and we have a deal okay?”

 “Deal!” 

 About 15 minutes later, only one mother refused to let my dad pick up her daughter. Mom kissed his cheek, I gave him a great big hug and he ventured out into the storm, picking up five girls. They smooshed together in his truck and later he told me that they all chattered the entire time.

“I didn’t have to say anything.” He tucked me in the next night, after all the sleeping bags were rolled up, the presents tucked away, and the last of my yellow cake with chocolate frosting was being digested in a rumbling stomach. 

The thing is he usually didn’t have to say anything. His love showed in everything he did. There’s a certain magic in that, in acting with love and confidence.

When we have time to choose and make decisions, we often have a moment to think about our intent. Are we acting with love or because of fear?

Here’s a really interesting article about how our intentions and our fear often close us down to opportunity and happiness. We might be afraid to get hurt by loved ones or afraid of losing control over a work situation so we keep information to ourselves, refuse to delegate, are guarded.

But if we let the fear control us then we become that fear. We lose our ability to expand, to share our stories, to pick up little girls during a blizzard.

In a post on Psychology Today’s website, Nancy Collier speaks about ‘operating from love.’

I like this Quote. It is Wise.

Operating from love is to set our own ego aside long enough to listen to the experience of the other, to be courageous enough to be willing to try and understand what the other person is experiencing, no matter how radically different it is from what we intended to happen, think happened, or believe was the cause of what happened. It is to have the strength of heart to understand and open our heart to what the pain is that the other is skillfully or unskillfully trying to express. A response (not reaction) that comes from love is listening to the other’s upset as if we were just ears hearing, ears alone, not ears attached to a head, attached to an ego, attached to an identity, attached to a person intent on remaining intact and unchanged. 

Collier, LCSW, Rev

It would have been so much easier for my tired dad to leave those girls at their homes, for me not to have a birthday party. He had an out. There was a blizzard. He didn’t because he acted out of love. In small and big ways, we have choices every day where we can listen to our intentions and understand why we do what we do.

So What Does It Mean to Live From Love?

To live from love not fear, on a practical level, is to shift from a goal of protecting our ego, being right, winning the argument, being not to blame, and move into actually being kind, being loving—in our actions. It is to be willing to stop proving that we’re a good person and actually be that good person—to be courageous enough to open our heart and be love even when our ego is screaming in fear.   

Collier again

It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? I hope we all can start moving forward in this journey with that intent.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

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 and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

How To Deal With Rejection

I’ve been thinking a lot about rejection lately because I’m teaching some amazingly brilliant writers at the Writing Barn who haven’t been published yet. And they are talent. Their stories should be published.

And I found one of my earliest blog posts when I wrote about a story getting rejected. It’s below.

Well, the fat cat sits with her bum on my manuscript again, which can only mean good things because according to writer myths, “A cat sitting on your manuscript means that the manuscript will become a book.”

And the big, white dog is soaked because it rained during our walk today. She has a “poopie heinie” somehow too. Yuck. I wish there was some good writing superstition about this… If your long-haired dog gets fecal matter stuck in their pure white hair means a starred review…

On a weirdly positive note, I just received the BEST rejection letter ever. Yes, I know. It makes no sense. But i sent out a novella to Penguin. They responded that it was “Beautifully, written, incredibly moving” and it’s clear that I “have a great deal of talent.”

So why did they reject it? Just to make me sad?
Probably, but they said it was a bit too specialized and scary for the middle grade market.

Hhmmm…

What does this mean?

Does this mean it’s YA or adult even though I imagined it as middle grade? I am not smart enough to figure out who to send this to now. If only my magic cat and her great sitting abilities could tell me. 

On another positive note Penguin said they’d be happy to consider future work, wished me great luck and “strongly encourage” me to submit the piece elsewhere.
Where? Where? Where?
Acckkkk!!!

It may have been a lovely rejection letter, but it’s a bit frustrating too. 
I am going to go pet the cat.

Me back in 2006

Rejection Is Not Always bad

Sometimes rejection is good in life and in books. If the creepy homicidal dude rejects you then that’s awesome and you live to see another day and all those cliches. But the thing is, when he’s rejecting you? You don’t know that he’s a creepy homicidal dude. So you mourn without realizing that him rejecting your offer to go split a pizza is the best thing ever.

It can be like this with your books, too.

Sometimes you and an agent or editor aren’t going to click. Sometimes your rejection is saving you from a really bad business relationship.

That doesn’t feel easy to take in though, does it? Or really make it better. So here are so more tips.

Babe, they just don’t get you.

Some people don’t get your sense of humor, your style, your witty comebacks, your endless Doctor Who references and you don’t get their live for American Pickers. You are rejected because you’re a bad match.

Sometimes they know you better than you know you.

They might have some good criticism about the fact that your 500,000 word manuscript has 450,000 words that start with the letter- r. Their criticism is going to help you make a stronger book with less alliteration. Boom! Score!

Remember that You Write Because You Love It

In all seriousness, I see a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook posting about how much writing sucks and how hard it is and how much they hate it. If this is you, I want you to think about why you’re writing. Don’t do this to yourself. You deserve to be happy. If writing makes you miserable almost all the time that you do it, don’t write. Tell your story to the world in a way that makes sense to you, that gives you joy, that you look forward to doing. Life is too short to spend it miserable when you don’t have to be miserable.

I will be sad that your stories aren’t out there, but I will be so happy that you are out there doing things you love.

Tell Your Inner Critic To Shut Up

The hardest part of rejection for a lot of us is that we internalize it. Some random editor or agent somewhere has rejected this one manuscript and we think that this means an inditement on our worth and our character. We think, “I suck.” We think, “I am a loser.” Our inner critic hyperbolizes the rejections into a massive litany of all our failures.

That inner critic needs to shut up.

Here’s the thing, the more we do, the more we try, the more we create, the better we get, but we also fail more that then people who never try, never do and never create.

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

Sylvia Plath

Remember When Dealing With Rejection

  • It’s okay to feel sad about it. That’s normal and human. It’s not okay to feel forever sad about it or make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Don’t be a butthead to the person or company that rejected you. That doesn’t get you published. It gets you the reputation of being a butthead. Nobody wants to work with buttheads.
  • Find friends who will lift you up. Check out the hashtag #writercommunity. Commiserate with others.
  • Write again. Try again. Shout and sing your stories and never give up. You deserve to be heard.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

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 and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

Seven funky ways to start your novel

I’m super lucky to not only be writing my own stories, but I’m mentoring a high school student right now who is an awesome human. This week, we talked a lot about how we get blocked when we’re starting a story, which got me thinking.

Spoiler: Me thinking is not necessarily a good thing.

Darcy Pattison has some great tips on her blog, but because I am easily bored I like to take things and switch them around. You should definitely check out her blog, but before you do, here are my evil takes on the ways to start a novel.

And instead I am giving you my hot takes from an excellent article from Jacob Appel for Writers Digest.

Grand Philosophical B.S.

This is a big philosophical statement that your novel eventually will affirm. Like Jane Hamilton’s The Book of Ruth: “What it begins with, I know finally, is the kernel of meanness in people’s hearts.”

Or, you know…

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a bag of Doritos must be in want of a napkin or at least a paper towel.

Thank you, Tolstoy

Stating a Fact Like You are the Goddess of Facts

Klems explains this as, “The entire weight of the narrative can sometimes be conveyed in a single statement” and shows us the lovely example via Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, “It was a pleasure to burn”

Or, you know. . .

Dogs like to poop.

Carrie Jones

Making a Nice Little Fact Couple

Put two facts together for a one-two punch.

“In our town there were two bags of Doritos, and they were always hanging together near some dog poop.”

Thank you, Carson McCullers and Me

A Fact That Gets All Self-Important

Yes, a fact can become significant later on and you the author show that in your opening line. Like if I was doing this for my next book IN THE WOODS, I’d write:

Chrystal spent every summer with her dad looking for monsters that weren’t supposed to exist.

Me again because it’s my blog

Being All About Voice Like You’re Singers or Something

Jacob M. Appel writes, “Stories that begin with a highly unusual voice often withhold other craft elements for a few sentences—a reasonable choice, as the reader may need to adjust to a new form of language before being able to absorb much in the way of content.”

“Dude, if you touch those Doritos prepare to die.”

Me because I am hungry right now.

Something sexy that creates a mood

This is sometimes a big world view. It can be a line that sounds like a poem. It resonates through its word choice and sound. Plath is a good example, so let me ruin it.

It was a cold, frozen winter, the winter they poisoned all the Doritos, and I didn’t know what I was doing still in America eating processed snack food.

I apologize Sylvia

Being Super Obvious

Sometimes storytellers start their stories by saying that they are telling a story. I guess this happens if they feel like the person that’s reading a book forgets that it’s actually a book? Maybe? I’m not sure. Experts call this ‘framing a story.’ I call it ‘speaking down to the reader.’

Yo, reader, let me inform you that you are about to read a story entitled I AM WRITING A DAMN FINE STORY, written by me, a damn fine writer.

I now sort of want to write this story. STOP ME!


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

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 and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

Big Foot and Me and Being Afraid of Success

I wanted to find him.


Every day, I’d rush through my homework, gobble up left-over stuffing and head to the woods in my backyard.

Then I’d be incredibly quiet.

I was hunting. I didn’t have a gun. I was one of those kids who read Charlotte’s Web and became a vegetarian because well, how could you eat Wilbur? My vegetarianism was strict, and I knew when my mom tried to pass off Ragu’s meat sauce as the green pepper and onion variety. 

“You need protein!” She’d throw up her hands in disgust. “Protein!”

I scoffed at protein. I was Super Carrie, Vegetarian Girl. No mere mortal, was I. I ate no meat, propelled by 10-year-old righteous indignation, moral outrage, and a love for all pigs and cows and various other barnyard animals, like my Uncle Kilton. 

My vegetarianism was only lifted for my daily nibble of Stove Top Stuffing. You know the slogan, It’s better than potatoes. It was. It was! Sure, it had chicken flavoring in it, but I reasoned that the chicken flavoring couldn’t possibly come from real chickens.

Right?

Fortified by stuffing, I’d head to the woods, trying to walk with quiet, rolling my feet inwards as I stepped in a straight line like a fox. The wind whipped my hair. The maple leaves fell down. The cars on the highway zipped by. I ignored them all. I was on a quest.

I was hunting Big Foot. 

Yes, Big Foot, the man-beast of the Washington woods, solitary hirsute Sasquatch. I, Carrie Barnard, would find him in my backyard in Bedford, N.H. I would find him and … and … and… 

Then what? I wondered.

Then, we would be friends. 

Coming back from Pioneer Girls at the Calvary Baptist Church with Katie Henderson and her mom one Friday night, we turned into my driveway, just as something big and covered with fur slipped into the woods by the garage.


“Did you see that?” I whispered to Katie.


“What?” She sat upright, pigtails whipping her face. “Was it Jesus?”

Katie always hoped to spot Jesus. She wanted the second coming to come already. She was tired of homework and was positive there was no homework in Heaven.


I wasn’t that optimistic. If Jesus did come down would it get me out of my book report on Witch of Blackbird Pond? God would probably make me do that book report, and a character study for added fun. 


“No,” I hissed. “It wasn’t Jesus. I think I saw Big Foot.”

Katie rolled her eyes, and scratched at her hand. “Yeah, right.”

“No. Really. He jumped in the woods.”

Mrs. Henderson parked. 

“Yeah, you saw Big Foot. Just like you saw that U.F.O,” Katie snickered. 

Pow! She struck low, Katie did. 

I shuddered and thought, Oh, not the U.F.O. mention!

One tiny mistake and I was forever known as the Girl Who Thinks Airplanes With Light Up Banners Advertising Radio Stations Are U.F.O.’s. 

“This wasn’t an airplane,” I said, opening the station wagon door.

“It was probably your stepfather,” Katie said.

“He’s not that hairy.”

Mrs. Henderson rolled down her window and I thanked her for the ride. 

“Remember to pray tonight, and that’s all the thanks I need,” she said.

She tooted the horn. I steamed. How dare that woman? She was scaring my Big Foot. 

I will prove them Wrong!

Determined to prove Katie wrong, I searched daily. I prowled secret short-cuts, climbed trees for better views, searched for tracks. I’d creep, hoping to sneak up on him. I’d sprint, leaping over dead falls, slopping through muck, hoping to startle him out. Mud slopped on the bottom of my corduroys. Water seeped into my Adidas sneakers. 

Far ahead of me in the murky forest, trees beckoned, taunting me. The teasing fee-bee-bee-bee of the Eastern Phoebe broke the air. Then …a snuffling noise, a lower growl. Something primal rumbled in front of me. It was not the noise of a hoppity rabbit, or a sweet deer who’d lost his mother.

It was not the noise of a Disney movie.

Another growl broke the air and I did what every fearless explorer does when faced with the possible object of pursuit. I ran.

I will forever regret this decision.

I was so close to potentially seeing Big Foot or at least a black bear, but what did I do? I ran away. And I think I’ve (cough) done this with multiple things in my life.

Sometimes we run away from success and there’s a reason why that is. Success means change. Failure means more of the same. Change is the unknown. It is the growl in the woods. It can be scary not knowing what will happen in our lives.

When we succeed we influence more people. There’s a responsibility that goes along with that.

When we succeed there are new pressures to deal with. Some are societal. Some might be financial. Some might just be how our personalities shift to deal with this new situation. That can be scary.

But the thing is? If Big Foot is out there, we have to step forward to meet her/him.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

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 and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

How to Start Writing a Book

People ask me all the time about how to start writing a book, and I think I’m getting more emails about this than I normally do, which means – a lot of emails. 

So, I’m going to resurrect this blog about it. 

There are basically three components to writing a book or a novel, or anything honestly.

The first part is you have to write

You have to put words to the page and/or computer screen. A lot of people get stuck on this part. There’s no one right way to do it. You can outline the heck out of a book and/or a novel. Or… you can hear a sentence in your head and just go from there and see where the journey takes you. The secret is to not get hung up on how to do the writing or outlining, but to do the writing, which leads me to the second component.

Do not stop writing.

 You have to keep writing even when you think your story sucks, even when you think it is pointless. You have to expect self-doubt and write right through it. Stopping because of self doubt is the number one enemy of writers. It is what keeps me from blogging, which to me is much more terrifying than writing a book. 

End the Bad Boy.

In order for you to have a book out in the world, you have to write all the way through it to the ending. There are a million books out there and even more ‘almost written’ books. Don’t be an almost. Be a writer. 

Here are some more hints.

1. Write

Write as much as you can. I wrote my first book, TIME STOPPERS (13th published one) in the car on my way to newspaper assignments. I’d make the story up aloud and tell it to my daughter and then write the pages at home when I got a chance. If you write just one page a day, you end up with a draft that’s 356 pages at the end of the year. You know what that is? It’s a book.

2. Keep Track of Your Progress 

A lot of the time, I feel like I haven’t written anything or achieved any writing during the day. My mind is evil like that. So to help me keep track, I post a word count at the beginning of the day and the end of the day, too. That way I can see how many words I wrote. When I’m revising, I do it by chapter. I revise a chapter a day and mark it off in my notebook or computer file.  It’s good to see that you’ve accomplished things. It’s motivating.

3. Work Every Day 

Some writers don’t do this. I do. But I’m trying to take the weekends off. Some writers go on a retreat and work for 24 hours straight, sipping green tea and eating Saltines. I am not one of those writers, but you can be. If you aren’t the binge-type writer, though, make sure you are diligent. Write every day. Think about when you will write. Schedule time to write. Do it. For my first book, I was writing everywhere, on napkins, the back of envelopes, computer files, and I would be in the car waiting to pick up my daughter, at a swim meet (DO NOT JUDGE. SWIM MEETS ARE LONG), waiting for a meeting to start. All those moments of waiting became moments of writing. 

4. Give Yourself Goals 

I have daily goals, weekly goals and yearly goals. This sounds quite organized. It isn’t, really. I just say things like, “I want to write 5,000 words this week,” or I want to have the necromancer story done by November 1, this revision of a picture book done by December, and so on. Your goals can be big or little, but keep visiting them, remind yourself of them. And be psyched when you achieve them. I give this advice, but I totally fail at the celebration part of writing. When my last book came out, I was training members of Rotary International about public image. I absolutely failed to even have a cupcake to celebrate. DO NOT BE LIKE ME. Give yourself goals and party when you achieve them. You deserve it. 

5. Be Okay with Sucking 

I am so far from perfect. My writing is far from perfect. The truth is that even the writers that you think are heroic, brilliant, awesome, amazing mess up. They have editors, second editors, agents, friends who help them make their stories the best they can be. The secret is to let others help you. The other secret is to not let your fear of failure freeze you into not making story. We writers are often our own worst enemy and few of us have healthy egos that are okay with criticism, that don’t have self doubt. The thing is to preserve, keep writing. 

6. Write More 

Once you have your story, revise your story. Revise it again. Study the books you like. Revise again. Study the books you don’t like. Revise again. And write something new. Don’t stop writing. Writing is a craft and the more you do it, the better you become. This is just like all the other arts and crafts. The more you practice piano, the better a pianist you are. The more you sculpt, the better the sculptor. Writers are artisans. Our materials are words. Words are the symbols we put together to create story. 

7. Start a blog and find a community 

Writing can be lonely. You are in your house or coffee shop or (if you are me) car, writing. If you blog, you can connect to other writers and readers. If you connect, you can find support when you are feeling like throwing your laptop through the window. You can feel less alone. 

8. Get Inspired 

When I talk to kids about writing, I tell them that to live the biggest lives they can, experience things that are legal and won’t get you thrown in prison or hurt or kicked out of school, have adventures, make friends, listen to people’s conversations. The stories writers tell are about interactions, cause and effect, about things happen. Be a witness. Be a story teller. Live. 


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be 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.

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WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

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 and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

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