When Children’s Book Writers Are Supposed To Dance Things Might Not Be Pretty

Back before COVID-19, I went to my first big writing conference (as a speaker) in L.A. (California) and I learned that there was a big gala thing and all of us children’s book writers (published and prepublished) were supposed to dance and schmooze there.

Despite the fact that my aunt owned a dance studio and I started dancing when I was two and despite the fact that author/poet/musician/playwright Ozzie Jones once gave me the best compliment about my dancing ever at a Bates College party and despite the fact that I’ve been in far too many musical theater productions, I get uptight about dancing.

Cough.

This is awkward to admit.

And I was supposed to hang out in a group of 900 children’s book writers who were going to be dancing? It was already super obvious who the extraverts are in the children’s book world and let me tell you? It’s the dancers. It’s the schmoozes. It’s the people who introduce themselves to you and aren’t awkward about it.

It is not me.

I thought children’s book writers were my people. Apparently, I was wrong. The whole situation was a lot more like a middle school dance than I thought it would be.

What I learned

1. Some writers can actually dance. I mean, they bend backwards. They throw off shoes. They are not me.

Get your boogie on and shuck off those ukeleles, authors!

2. Author John Green blushes and sort of crumples in half when kids tell them they’ve read Looking for Alaska‘s scene that involves a penis.

I am not spoiling here, but… I’m sure you can guess the scene. The truth is that scene has a bit of the Judy Blume phenom going for it. Kids I knew flipped to it, shared it with friends, even before or after they’ve read the whole book and I could go on for awhile about this and how it’s a very okay thing, but that would be a much longer post for later in the week. 

Also, despite a lot of lady writers asking him to dance, John Green managed to not dance. I envied him.

See, John. This is almost as steamy as your scene, and Raintree County is ancient, although steamy. 

3. It is hard to find people you know in a crowd of 900 and sometimes you just have to give it all up and hang with people you barely know. When doing this, try not to talk about the positive beauty of fleece TOO much. They will run away. 

4. Holding a beer makes dancing easier. I did not do this, but I should have. Thanks for the tip, Lisa Yee!

5. Once you tell people that you’re running off to get someone else to come dance it is REALLY REALLY hard to find those people again. Try not to worry that they think you were blowing them off and you are an evil mean girl or something.

I’m so sorry I lost you! I was busy dying inside from social anxiety.

6. Author Lisa Yee tells amazing stories. Many include peeps. Some include pee. Does there seem to be a connection?

I found this photo on Pinterest. Thank you, Pinterest!

Rock on, Little Peep. Rock on!

7. It’s okay to stand in the big grass circle by the taco makings instead of dancing because there will be other people there who aren’t drunk enough to dance either. These are some of your fellow introverts. Embrace them. Ask first though because not everyone likes embracing.

8. Even when there’s lots of room to spread out people will clump up to dance. I am not sure if this is because it is fun getting elbowed in the head or just for the hiding-your-dance-skills in a bunch of other people factor. Or maybe it’s just the hope for getting lucky is greater the closer you are to other bodies. Does anyone know? Is this an extrovert thing or an introvert thing?

9. Sometimes people can do amazing things with aluminum foil. Sometimes people can’t. This can be dangerous when the foil is used to make clothing. No. I am not posting a picture of this here. But also foil-clothing and dancing can lead to some NSFW photos of writers. Don’t enthusiastically dance if you’re only wearing aluminum-foil clothing unless you’re okay with other writers seeing body parts that are usually covered up and stuff.

10. Writer Cecil C (BEIGE) can hold while dancing:
    1. Plate of food.
    2. Eating utensil
    3. Massive funky-cool bag/purse
    4. Video camera
    All at the same time with a still-healing wrist, which obviously qualifies her for this status

 Yes, she is the dynamic force of both Wonderwoman and Superman combined! That’s super power.

And there you go. Helpful hints for when you go to a conference and there are a bunch of children’s book writers dancing.

Continue reading “When Children’s Book Writers Are Supposed To Dance Things Might Not Be Pretty”

My Dog Is A Skunk Killer AND I Had No Clue!

See this face?

It’s a cute face, right? It is an innocent, adorable, sweet face. This is the dog who lets us hug her for hours and actually leans into it. This is the dog who refuses to take food out of your hand unless you assure her that you really don’t want it. This is a dog that allows kittens to climb through her fur and hitch rides on her back.

But also, apparently, Gabby the Dog has been hiding an entire other side of herself and she is a killer. Not just a hornet killer. She’s really good at swallowing hornets and wasps whole.

No.

She is a skunk killer.

The Scene

We let her and Sparty Dog (our non killer, not even hornets) outside to the backyard before bed. The yard is fenced. She rushed out, running full-tilt, which is hard for her because:

  1. She is old.
  2. She was abused and starved as a puppy and her muscular system and skeletal structure didn’t form correctly do to lack of nutrition and also being tied to a tree in Alabama all day, every day.

But according to He Who Let Her Out, she sprinted, silently to the back corner of the yard where the fence meets the shed.

A Smell Happens

I was at my desk making my to-do list for the next day when I smelled burning.

I jumped up and flipped my laptop over because I’m super paranoid about laptops catching on fire.

It was not my laptop.

“Do you smell burning?” I yelled to Shaun aka the bodyguard aka Person Who Let The Dogs Into The Yard.

“No. I don’t smell any–“

“SKUNK!” I screamed, slamming shut the windows. “Dear God, did you let the dogs out there? Oh no! Oh no!”

Gabby has had a skunk encounter before. She chased it out of the yard and it slid under the gate but first shot its odoriferous defense system straight into her muzzle. It took a lot to make her smell good after that. I did not want a repeat of that event.

But instead, instead…

The Scene Evolves INTO POOPY BUSINESS

We ran to the back mudroom door, flung it open. In the middle of the yard was Sparty the Non Killing Dog doing his poopy business. He was walking across the yard while he did this, head down, doggy posture looking ashamed/horrified and definitely not making any eye contact with us or Gabby the Dog in the back corner.

“Sparty! In here now!” I yelled.

Sparty is a perfect dog and scampered in. I shut us in the mud room. Smelled him. He was good to go.

“You are the best dog ever,” I told him.

He agreed and went into the living room to jump on the couch and wait out the drama.

WHO EVEN IS THIS KILLER?

Meanwhile, Shaun was still out on the back stoop staring into the darkness that is our yard. I could just barely see the white form of Gabby in the corner. She was doing that dog thing she does with her toys where she flails her head rapidly back and forth. Something was in her mouth. That something was not her favorite froggy toy.

“Sweet mother of all things holy,” I whispered. “Is she playing with the skunk?”

“No,” Shaun said. “No, she has killed the skunk and is apparently making sure it’s really dead.”

I gasped. “My baby’s not a killer.”

Shaun said, “Honey, your baby is definitely a killer.”

He had to turn on the hose to get her to drop it. Gabby is a Pyr, not a retriever, not a hunter. And though she knows the command “Drop it,” her stubborn Pyr genes were in full effect.

The Horror

I brought her in the mudroom expecting to see blood and skunk bits. And I cleaned her. There was no blood and she somehow only had skunk smell in her mouth and on her right paw.

“Who even are you?” I asked.

She wagged her tail and breathed skunk smell on me. I managed to not die, too.

What Does This All Mean?

But that’s not why I’m writing about this whole horrific event. I’m writing about it because Gabby reminded me that we never know exactly what other people (or dogs) are capable of. We never know exactly what we are capable of either.

We think we know how we’d react in certain situations, often imagine ourselves the hero of our own stories and other people’s stories, but we have different sides, instincts that sometimes turn into actions and words that we never thought we’d do or save. And that holds true for the people and dogs we love, too.

Gabby reminded me that while I might think of her as a skunk killer now, she thinks she was protecting Sparty and our house. She reminded me that we don’t all have the same motivations and intentions and no matter how much we think we understand people and dogs and ourselves? Well, sometimes surprises happen.

And that’s okay.

my hands smell like dogs
Cutie Dog and Skunk Killer.
Continue reading “My Dog Is A Skunk Killer AND I Had No Clue!”

Monday Exists and So Do You

Look at you. Working towards your goals. Dreaming big dreams. Inspiring.

Doing.
One word forward.


Another one.


Look at you go.


xo

Gabby the Dog


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 218,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Link to Jose’sbonus interview.

This week’s episode link. 


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.


IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

It’s 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!

Hey you, human!

Hello!


Relax your shoulders. Lick your lips. Hope for treats. No, just take some treats. Stretch.Look at you! You’ve got this day. You are made of stars and dreams.


We believe in you!


xo

Gabby and Sparty Dogs


I just published a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up?

You can order it here. Please, please, order it. 

So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST- DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

This link to our last episode, Are You Beige and Do You Think in Words? 

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

BALLSY SPONSORED THIS EPISODE! 

We’re super psyched because this episode is sponsored by Ballsy. 

Best sponsorship ever. 

And why is that? 

Because Ballsy is for fun couples like us who are not into lame gifts for Valentine’s Day and they have a cool gift set just for Valentine’s Day and people like us. 

You want this, don’t you?

There’s an I’m Nuts About You gift set and the You’re Incrediballs heart box set. 

They are running a promo right now for LOVE DAY and all days, really. The retail price is $less than $50, and the coupon code is for 20% off.

Here is your code for you, our cool listener: DOGS20 

It has the word DOG in the code. That’s so cool. Just like you’ll be cool if you give this to your special man for Valentine’s. So go check Ballsy out at ballwash.com

Sparty Dog on a Wednesday

It’s easy to rip other people apart.


But you aren’t about easy. You’re about lifting up so we can all hit new heights, have cuddly beds, good treats.


Look at how beautiful you are. You. You sparkle. Go share that. Go be you.


Also, bring treats.


xo

Sparty Dog

Gabby Dog’s Tuesday Motivation

Sometimes you might lose hope.

But the thing is? Hope can come back.

The thing is? YOU ARE AMAZING all the time.

Look at you breathing, thinking, doing.


You’re beautiful. You’ve got this. I believe in you.
xo

Gabby Dog

Leaning Into Fear in 2020

We all have times in our lives when fear gets the best of us, when we don’t know what’s going on in ourselves or in our world. Our thinking becomes catastrophic and everyone is suddenly an expert in the Book of Revelations and apocalypse horsemen.

That’s no way to live. Not even in winter in 2020.

Marguerite Duras wrote in her novel The Lover that “the art of seeing has to be learned.” That’s true for bravery, too. 

This is my year of leaning in or rather it’s my life of leaning in, of going right at the things that I’m most afraid of. 

I grew up in a house where fear was a normal state of being. My mom was afraid of everything, closed spaces, open spaces, heights, deep water, birds, spiders, dead animals, driving over a bridge, driving into a city, even cats eventually became terrifying to her. Jump scares happened daily and would be caused just by me walking into a room.

My older brother and sister inherited her fears. My sister was afraid of grass when she was little. She got over that, thankfully, but she’s still afraid of a lot. My brother is too. Birds make them nervous, heights, closed in spaces, so many things. 

“You are not like me,” Mom said once when I was in fifth grade after jumping off the roof of our garage. “Or like the rest of us. You’re brave.” 

I thought that maybe fear was a part of our DNA, our family. I thought it might be some kind of inherited disease that I could avoid by being fierce. 

But I had it too. The fear. I just hid it better, fought it. At slumber parties when there would be some creaking radiator that all the fourth-grade girls would be 100 % sure was either a possessed clown doll with an axe or a possessed clown human with a machete and I would grab the closest weapon (usually a flashlight) and yell, “Come on! We have to face our fears!” We’d all grab hands and I’d march them off towards the source of the sound. We’d hold hands for so long. We’d be praying. We’d be shaking. But we always moved forward, holding each other up as we walked towards our terrors. We never met any possessed things. 

“You’re so brave,” my friends would say because I was always the one in front, the one who’d be first to die via possessed clown doll, I guess. “So brave.” 

I’m not. It’s just that we live, if we are to live at all, in a world full of noises, and fears, and possibilities for harm, violence, pain. “I don’t know what this world is coming to,” a man said to me recently in the grocery store parking lot, “but I mourn for us.” 

He reminded me of my dad, plumber’s smile pants, kind smile and eyes full of worry. Cracked skin on his fingers from hard work and cold, dry air.

I live in on a large island in Maine. In the winter, our tourist community loses most of its people and color. Wind sweeps through winter-boarded restaurants. People meet up at the grocery store. People start going to our grocery store every day just to see other people. The world is white and gray and brown. The only color is the sky and an occasional scarf. Even the most of the people dress in navy blue, white, black, and gray.

And this is when I always feel the most scared, the most trapped, when the sun is a distant memory and warmth has been swept away on currents to much warmer places where the lights stream down. Every world event, every life event, every choice feels more dangerous and I feel more vulnerable, less tethered to bravery. 

We all have times in our lives when fear gets the best of us, when we don’t know what’s going on in ourselves or in our world. Our thinking becomes catastrophic and everyone is suddenly an expert in the Book of Revelations and apocalypse horsemen. 

That’s no way to live. Not even in winter in 2020. 

My mother never had the life she wanted, never visited England, never explored the world and became a teacher, never swam with manatees or dolphins, because she was too afraid. When the events of our lives and the world combine to feel catastrophic, we don’t know if there is a design to it or chaos, but we can know what our reaction is to it. We can lean into the fear and hold up signs saying THE END OF THE WORLD IS COMING or we can lean the other way, towards courage and possibility. We can hold up signs saying, HOW DO WE MAKE THIS WORLD BETTER? Yes, even if there is only a day or two left of this world, we can still try to make our lives and the lives of others better. 

We can breathe in, take a look, and ask ourselves, “What is happening here?” We can react out of courage, hold each other’s hands and investigate the noises. 

Looking into the darkness and illuminating it,  looking into the light where the ugly truths are illuminated? Both can be terrifying. But to move forward, to evolve as people, or society or as a species, that’s exactly what we have to do. We have to face the truths illuminated, the darkness of our fears. We have to hold hands and face our fears, lean into them, and see not just what they are, but what they reflect about us. Call attention to what we fear, what we see, what we do, because that is the only true way to fight the things that have to be fought. 

Lean in.

Face your fears. 

All day, every day. 

Bravery like seeing – truly seeing the world –  has to be practiced. You stagger a bit in the beginning, but then your own bravery can shock you, becoming a total surprise. And instead of seeking to have it, you’ve just become it. Brave. 


Doggy Thought For Monday

Why hello.
Stretch!!!
Look at you, getting out of bed and into the world, looking so shiny.
I’m proud of you. Let’s go face our fears, be vulnerable and strong, breathe in all the moments.
You’ve got this Monday & this week.
Let’s do it. Let’s adventure!
xo

Gabby the Dog

WRITING NEWS

I’m about to publish a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up? 

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones

I have a new book coming out!

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can preorder it here. Please, please, preorder it. 

So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.


DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST

This week’s writing podcast.

WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”


IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

It’s 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!

Order 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

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Gabby Dog and Cloud the Kitten Friday Animal Inspiration

Sometimes the world seems a bit … much?

Hang onto love and friends. Let go of the stuff that keeps you from being strong. Hang on.


Hang on.


This world needs good. You are the good.

Also, please remember not to poop in the sink.

Cough.

Looking at you, kitten.

xo

Gabby Dog and Cloud the Kitten


COOKING WITH AN AUTHOR

This week’s Cooking With an Author – vegetarian recipes with a quirky, author twist is here. It’s all about hangover burritos. You do not have to be hungover or to ever have had alcohol to enjoy them. 

Burritos
Writer recipes


DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST

Last week’s podcast

This week’s podcast link.


WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

Continue reading “Gabby Dog and Cloud the Kitten Friday Animal Inspiration”

Sparty Dog’s Thoughts on a Tuesday

You and me?
We are here to transform ourselves and the world. Right now.
Yeah, rolling out of bed is a difficult first step, but we can do this.We have to do this.
Inside of us is something special. It’s called our hearts. Let’s use them. Hug first though?
xo

Sparty Dog

Podcast

Gabby Dog’s Monday Motivation

Sometimes it’s hard to open your heart to life that feels different, but
that’s the best time to open your heart.

You get a cool soft place to rest your head & to just be.

Loving is just being.

Opening your heart? It’s not about taking or giving. It’s about being.

I want that for you.

Love,

Gabby Dog