Be a Breathtaking Rough Draft

And try not to freak out about the good things

Be Brave Friday - The Suck at Running Edition
Be Brave Friday – The Suck at Running Edition

I’m going to get an award and it’s freaking me out.

No, writing world, it’s not a National Book Award, but an award in our local community, and it’s very lovely and also very strange because it’s a recognition of me trying. Trying to do good stuff. Trying to get facts out. Trying to make the community a better place. Trying to make sure people have a voice.

It feels weird to be recognized for that when I don’t ever feel like I’m doing a good enough job.

Eleven years ago today, I was doing press via national radio news things for the book, DEAR BULLY, which I co-edited. It was an anthology of true stories by writers about the impact of bullying on their childhoods.

These radio moments on places like NPR were totally outside my comfort zone because I have a Muppet voice and slosh my s’s, and radio is all about voice. Kind of like podcasts.

And it was sort of weird because my piece in DEAR BULLY was about getting mocked about my voice and being told I would never be successful because of my voice, that nobody would take me seriously.

Which is probably a big part of why I am a writer.

Nobody can interrupt you when you write.

Nobody can hear your sloshy s-sounds.

And nobody sees it when your skirt falls down.

But awards? Awards and radio interviews or even goofy podcasts like our one tonight mean that for a tiny brief moment people can see you.

And it’s cool. I’m super lucky that I get to be a writer and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but sometimes I wonder what I’d be if I didn’t have this voice. Would I be braver about things like awards? Would I be an actress or a singer instead of a writer? A public speaker? Something else entirely?

Or if I had this same voice, but we lived in a world where difference didn’t easily mean cruelty would my anxiety be a bit less about people noticing me.

You know?

Despite what it might seem like on social media or podcasts, I’m a person who actually prefers to sit on floors rather than stand behind podiums, to applaud others and celebrate their awesome. And every time something good happens where I get attention, I kind of look over my shoulder and wait for something bad: some criticism, some complaint, or — you know — just my skirt falling down.

I’m trying to stop that looking over my shoulder and it’s not always easy, but I’m trying. It’s all part of evolving, right? So, I’m really thankful for this chance to evolve.

Choosing to see light in other people can be hard sometimes when there is mockery and politics and trolls. Choosing to promote light can be hard, too, because then people call you schmaltzy or a Pollyanna or Captain Hallmark. But trying to make your choices be full of gratitude and light? That can sometimes be the hardest thing of all. So, I’m trying to push my anxiety down and be cool about this award from our local chamber of commerce.

One of my old writing teachers created a book for other teachers (before the era of self publishing) and in it, he talked about “breathtaking rough drafts.” His favorite rough draft was like the one created below by one of his students.

And I’ve got to tell you, I think I’m still in that rough draft stage, hoping to someday be a breathtaking final product but currently in the massive throes of revision with scratch-outs and additions everywhere.

Anyways, if you are being mocked for being different, I am SO sorry. I hope you find the strength to make it through. I hope those people who are mocking you realize how poopy they are being. I hope you can find a way to realize that difference is an awesome thing. I hope that we all can move into the world of breathtaking together. ❤

Dear Bully, Ten Years Later

So, Megan Kelley Hall and I released DEAR BULLY, the anthology of authors telling their stories of being bullied, or standing by, or being bullies ten years ago last month. We were co-editors.

My involvement in the project was mostly inspired by two girls. One was a five-year-old, Jazmin Lovings who was relentlessly tormented by some other kids in her Brooklyn, NY kindergarten class. The kids even cut her hair without her permission.

Her story absolutely broke me. And I know (and knew) that I didn’t have enough power to change the world, but I had to at least try to do something, some small part.

Megan and a lot of the other contributors (and me) were also incensed and motivated by the story of Phoebe Prince, a young woman who had been bullied by schoolmates and who committed suicide.

We did a lot of interviews, but this one on NPR is lovely because it talks to a lot of us about being bullied AND being a bully and the lasting impact.

And I am still so proud of all the authors in there. 


For a lot of those authors, it was a big act of bravery to tell their stories. For a lot of them, it was a big act of bravery just to survive. For some of them, the bullying was so destructive it made them want to be invisible, to want to not exist.

And there are resonating truths in every one of their stories. Those truths are that pain is real, that actions and words can shatter us, that it’s hard to remember how awesome you are when people are telling you that you aren’t. 

Just in case you want a definition (and because I get all excited about sources), Bullying is defined by the American Psychological Association as:

Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.

The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying.

Though all the authors’ stories in DEAR BULLY involve bullying (stunning!) there are differences in the stories too.

Some authors hurt more and more often. Some used the experience to advocate for good. Some couldn’t recover.

For every one of us in there, the story is our own, and it is different. But one of the biggest, and greatest truths in those stories is that each and every one of us survived. We all lived to tell our stories.

And if you are reading this right now, you have lived too. You have to keep on living and fighting and trying to remember that you are awesome. 

People hating you doesn’t change that you have worth.

People being violent towards you, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve respect, and tolerance and love.

People ignoring you on purpose, doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to exist.


It’s a decade later and there is still bullying everywhere. Obviously on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and TikTok, but it’s also even on writing platforms like Medium. On Medium editors of publications often rail against new writers and their lack of professional grammar skills.

Here’s the thing: Your expertise doesn’t give you the right to pull other people down, to rail against them, to crush their dreams.

We all do a lot better as humans and as a society when we applaud each other for trying and working and evolving.

I’m not sure why people don’t get that.

Here’s Robert’s story about what’s happened to him over there.

Robert was lucky because he was massively supported by other writers, but sometimes? Sometimes even when other people support you against your bullies, the angry, mean voices are the ones that continue to take up space in your head.

James Rodemeyer 

Right when Dear Bully came out. James Rodemeyer couldn’t take it any more. He was in a IT GETS BETTER PSA. He was 14, tormented with anti-gay taunts like this: 

“JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND UGLY,” it said in one post. “HE MUST DIE!”

And before he died, after a year of constant cyberbullying, he wrote on his blog in 2011, “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”

We have to tell our stories, but we also have to be strong enough and empathetic enough to listen to other people’s stories.

And we have to stop hating. We have to stop thinking it is okay to post anonymous hate. We have to stop thinking that kindness doesn’t matter. Kindness matters. So much.

The world lost Jamie. It’s lost so many beautiful people. But it hasn’t lost Robert; it hasn’t lost those 70 authors in Dear Bully; it hasn’t lost me and it hasn’t lost you.

To read more about Jamey and the Cyberbully Census launched after his death and inspired by him, check out here and here.

What Can You Do?

You can think about whether or not you might be bullying people?

Do you tease a family member mercilessly even when they ask you to stop and say it’s just joking? Do you help people when they are being bullied? Do you know what you should do to help?

There are some great resources here and here and here. I hope you’ll check them out.


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

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




Email us at


Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 

Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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

And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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


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