One night a long while ago, due to a top secret mission (that involved NOTHING illegal or alcohol, I swear) I came home at 4:30 a.m. When I stepped out of the MINI, I was sort of weirded out.
There was a noise in the woods.
Hm, I thought, pixies?
No, I thought. Pixies are just in my NEED books. They aren’t actually in the woods.
This thought did not help since the things in my books tend to happen to me in real life after I write them. So being a calm and normal writer, I freaked out and ran inside. Tala, the Super Dog (who is no longer with us) was waiting at the door.
She leapt on me, kissed me, and then Tala the Super Dog reminded me that she is Tala the Super Pee Dog. She made her needs very clear by running around in circles by the door and giving me puppy dog sad eyes.
Tala: Seriously? It’s a long night when you can’t use a toilet.
So, I snapped on the leash and brought her outside. She immediately went into SOMETHING IS WRONG mode and started smelling in circles and growling and sniffing, hauling me up the driveway with her leash fully extended and totally ignoring all my please to sit, stay, slow down, and just-stop-for-the-love-of-God-just stop.
She was a Pyr. They don’t listen when they think they know better than you do. This is so true that there are memes and gifs about it.
So, I held on and prayed.
And that is when there was a noise in the big long grass by the side of the driveway.
And that is when I stopped walking.
And that is when I started murmuring, Please don’t let evil pixies be real.
And that is when Tala freaked out completely.
It was not ‘freaking out,’ human. It was DOGGY DEFENSE MODE! Geesh.
She lunged and growled and then got very still. I wrapped the leash around my wrists and held on with both hands. All of Tala’s doggy hairs stood up straight. So, um, did mine.
And that is when the bear came out of the underbrush.
And that is when the bear got all bristly.
And that is when Tala got macho and all, YOU ARE SO NOT COMING ANY CLOSER BEAR.
And that is when the bear got all, OH YEAH . YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE ME?
And that is when I thought, ALL THE OTHER BLACK BEARS I’VE EVER MET WERE SHY.
And that is when I thought, OH MAN!!! OH MAN!!! IT’S GOING TO KILL MY SUPER DOG.
And that is when I got super human strength and somehow yanked Tala back and ran in reverse into the garage, dragging her the whole way.
Tala: Let me just say, I let it her drag me back. Carrie is a pacifist. She couldn’t have handled the gore. Plus, I didn’t want to humiliate that bear. Bears have such egos.
Anyway, I have seen a lot of bears in the woods and I have never been scared of them, not ever, but that morning? Totally different story.
And it kind of reminds me of my life right now. All these normal things like writing and revising and blogging and living, walking dogs, hugging friends, things I love, have all become a tiny bit scary. And even when other people try to protect me, it’s really up to me to hang on and do the right thing and haul butt into the garage and regroup.
Is your life ever like that?
If it is, I’m sending you a Tala. If it is, I want you to have hope. If it is, I want you to know that you are important and beautiful and you matter.
But even though they are a tiny bit scary, I still love these things, even people. Yes, even the scary people. I hope you can find love and hope, too.
Here’s the only thing I know: It’s worth it to go up the driveway and face the bears.
NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :
ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.
The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.
For signed copies – email email@example.com for Sherman’s or email firstname.lastname@example.org let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!
You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.
A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes out tomorrow! Check it out, like and subscribe!
So, for the last few weeks, I talked about hooking your readers, but now I’m moving on a bit to story structure and romantic elements of your story.
The Meet Cute
Full disclosure: I am not the best at writing the meet cute scenes in romance stories. This is because lately, I’ve been writing stories where the characters have already met. They’ve grown up together and their relationship shifts from friendship to loveship.
I just made that word up.
But the meet cute happens usually after we’ve met the two romantic partners. The meet cute (despite its name) doesn’t even have to be cute. It has to be sizzling. It has to be flames. It has to have something that resonates inside each partner that makes us readers think – Oh, yeah. This is going to happen.
So, in the typical romance structure we have:
Meet Partner 1
Meet Partner 2
Partner 1 and Partner 2 Meet. Sizzles!
But in order for that sizzle to happen, we have to really understand Partner 1 and Partner 2 already. What is it that makes them tick? What do they want? How are they flawed? Make us remember them in those first scenes before the meet cute.
Are they awesome at something? Are they funny? Are they suffering? Have they done something super kind and selfless? Do they love something in a big way? Those key elements need to be there inside the character before the meet cute happens.
And what is it that they want? Make it something external and internal. An external goal might be easy or hard – it could be to get an ice cream cone. It could be to get a promotion or save the world from rabid hamsters. An internal goal could be something like – to be loved, to believe in myself. The character might not know her/his/their internal goal. But the author should. And also a flaw – that’s important. Nobody is perfect. And also add in something deep – what is it that your character never ever wants the world to know about them. That makes the character resonate.
So before the meet cute, you want:
To set up both characters if possible (Sometimes it isn’t when it’s first person).
To include in that character set-up:
Deep hidden secret
Something that makes us like them and root for them.
So, easy, right? You’ve got this.
I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!
ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!
This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!
Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.
Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.
Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.
They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.
“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA “YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish
“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage
Order Your Copy:
Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?
The Final Time Stoppers Book
What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.
Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”
Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice? What People are Saying About The Books:
“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal “The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” – Kirkus Reviews
“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –School Library Journal How to Get Signed Copies:
For signed copies – email email@example.com for Sherman’s or email firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!
When I was a little kid I talked funny. If you’ve heard me in person or listened to the podcast, you can tell that I still do, but it was way worse then. I slurred my s sounds. It wasn’t a lisp. It was more of a slur – like my tongue was kind of lazy and just didn’t want to do all the work.
So, in first grade for the whole first week, Jay Jamison (almost his real name) made fun of me. I’d raise my hand and answer and he’d lean over his desk and repeat whatever I said only super exaggerating the bad ‘s’ sounds.
So, if the answer was Sunday, I’d raise my hand and say, “Sunday.”
And then he’d lean over and go, “Ssssssshunday.”
And something inside me would tighten up. And something inside of me would want to cry, so I’d have to press my lips together really hard. And something inside of me would die a little bit.
Then, things got worse. Jay got his friends to mock me too at recess. They’d stand around me and say ‘s’ words, copying my voice, making their voices really high, laughing. They made fun of my last name, which was Barnard, and call me, “Carrie St. Bernard.”
It was pretty bad. Sometimes they’d pull at my jacket or my hair. Sometimes they’d monster hug me, which meant they’d try to squish me. The entire time they’d make fun of my voice, my s’s, me.
So, I stopped talking. I stopped raising my hand. I stopped answering questions.
I’d talk to my best friend Kathy Albertson and that was pretty much it. They had silenced me.
And I also tried to be invisible because I figured if they didn’t notice me then they couldn’t hurt me. I wanted more than anything to have invisibility be my super power. I would pray for it every night.
Pretty much all of first grade I didn’t talk. It was too scary to talk. I didn’t ever raise my hand even though I always knew the answers. And when I did talk I would try really hard to find words without ‘s’ sounds. (David Sedaris has a great essay about this. He did it, too). And the teacher thought there might be something wrong with me in a developmentally divergent and/or emotionally challenged way. And she told my mom. And I promised my mom I would talk more in second grade.
I spent the whole summer trying to learn how to talk better. I was home alone most of the time so I needed a model. You couldn’t hear people when you read books so I turned to the television.
We were super poor and we only got two channels – sometimes three.
One channel was soap operas and kissing, which was grosser than gross.
The other channel was mostly game shows, which was so tense. I had issues watching people almost win things and then not win things.
I was the least tough kid ever, basically.
This left one channel – PBS.
PBS is full of kids show, and back then it was also full of Muppets.
Yes, like the brilliant kid I was, I watched Sesame Street over and over to learn how to talk, so yes, I modeled my voice after Muppets, which pretty much explains my voice now.
Helpful Hint: It is not the best idea to model your voice after Elmo and Big Bird and Grover if you’re trying to fit in and not be bullied.
Yes, I taught Carrie how to talk.
Obviously, Sesame Street did not fix my s’s, but it did tweak my accent AND make me sound like a Muppet, which means that in second grade people still made fun of my voice, but my teacher, Mrs. Snierson gave us a haiku assignment that I totally aced and she realized I was smart, and pretty much protected me all that year.
Say “writing changed my life” is what.
I also learned that if you give your snacks away to the kids who never had enough money for snacks they would protect you, too.
And I also learned that if you asked people what was wrong when they cried, they’d protect you, too, once they were done crying.
And I also learned that Timmy Bourassa also liked smelly stickers, so I gave him some and then he protected me, too.
It was weird, but it was how I dealt. I coped by taking care of other people. I coped by buying protection with food and stickers.
The price of my protection?
No lunches for me
And things got better for a long time. People stood up for me when Jay was mean. Jay eventually became a kid named Chris. Both of them gave up when other people stepped in for me.
I never stepped in for myself.
I didn’t know how.
Things were better though because my caring about other kids returned as they cared about me. ,
But then in seventh grade after years of speech classes that didn’t help my s sounds at all, one of my teachers made me stay during recess and said, “Carrie. You are never going to succeed because of your s’s. You’re a smart girl, but you’ll always be a loser if your voice sounds like that. “
He told me I had no hope.
He told me that there was no point in me trying or going to college or even finishing high school if I didn’t get those ‘s’ sounds fixed.
He told me I would never succeed.
I cried a lot in the hall and another teacher asked what happened. I still remember how red that other teacher’s face got when I told him.
I remember him hugging me while I sobbed.
I remember him storming into the first teacher’s room and yelling so loudly the whole school heard.
That teacher saved me. My mom saved me too.
She went to the school and complained. Nothing happened to the first teacher, but I knew my mom cared and that was important. But no matter what either my mom or my nice teacher, or any of my friends said, that first teacher’s words echoed in my head and in my soul for a super long time. They still echo there sometimes and I hear those words in that teacher’s voice, and Jay’s voice, and those recess boys’ voices, and sometimes I hear them in my voice and that’s when it hurts the most. It hurts the most when I, myself, am thinking:
I have no hope.
There is no point in me trying.
I will never succeed.
I am a loser.
My books have made New York Times bestseller lists and bestseller lists in France and I’m published in a bunch of countries and I get fan mail, but I still can hear those bullying words sometimes – not all the time – but sometimes.
And I realize I cringe every time someone makes fun of speech impediments on tv or movies or books.
And I realize that I still do what I did in second grade – I surround myself with people who protect me by making me feel better. If I’m really hurt, I’ll friends-lock blog about it and people are always so kind. That’s how I cope. But other people? They aren’t so lucky for a bunch of reasons.
Sometimes you are too hurt to help other people.
Sometimes sharing a lunch or a smelly sticker isn’t enough.
Sometimes the pain inside of you becomes so big that there is no way for you to help other people because your own heart has fractured so much.
So, thanks to all of you who have ever helped me through a bully experience. I hope you know how awesome you are.
I’ve recently contributed to the anthology THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID and Megan Kelley Hall and I co-edited another anthology, DEAR BULLY, which was an effort of writers, readers, bloggers and people to raise awareness about bullying. The money we raise from Dear Bully’s royalties continues each year to support programs meant to raise awareness about bullying and support those who have suffered. I am so grateful for that opportunity.
But it doesn’t feel like enough, you know? Nothing ever feels like enough.
If you’re a survivor of bullying, please know that you aren’t alone. Check out this website for some resources. And if you are a person who bullies? Try to get some help too. Your life can be so much better than it is now. Let’s change our culture into something better.
The Class at the Writing Barn
The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.
Praise for Carrie Jones andWrite. Submit. Support:
“Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”
“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.”
People are saying super nice things about me, which is so kind of them because helping people on their writing journeys and their craft and supporting them? That’s pretty boss, honestly.
I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1. From 11:30 to 12, I’ll be signing copies of The Spy Who Played Baseball. If you’re going to be there, come hang out.
Flying and Enhanced – the Young Adult Science Fiction Series
Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.
This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking action – School Library Journal
Sparty knows all about that. More info about FLYING is here and the rest of my books? Right here.