Dealing With Failure – Part One

We talk so much about the lack of civility in current culture, but there is also this great thirst to help, to care, to make a difference. And that matters. It matters.

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This week I failed at something in a business way and …. Well, it shook me.

To be fair, I am pretty raw and frayed right this second and my resilience isn’t at its peak. But for whatever reason, it shook me a lot.

I cried.

I didn’t wallow, but wow. I really wanted to wallow.

Instead, I posted on Facebook and asked people what they do when they feel like they’ve failed, when they are shook, when they are sad. How do they work their way out of it?

Note: My post wasn’t asking about depression, but a lot of people answered as if it was and those answers? They helped other people reading the post. That’s a big deal. And I am thankful for it.

People are giving. People want to help

I love that people were so incredibly willing to share their strategies for when they feel pointless, when failure seems too large. And I’m going to have a series of posts where I share these strategies because that’s the cool thing.

We talk so much about the lack of civility in current culture, but there is also this great thirst to help, to care, to make a difference. And that matters. It matters.

People want to help other people feel better, get through it. Remembering that matters, especially when you feel like you’re being annoying by not being perfectly happy. Nobody is always perfectly happy.

My friends’ and readers’ advice was beautifully varied, which only made it better because you could see the similarities and trends and differences in people’s coping mechanisms.

Some of those coping mechanisms involved apps.

“I’ve been there too this week if it makes you feel any better. My tips are to be gentle with yourself. Maybe take a long walk. I’ve downloaded a meditation app to my phone called Mind Space, and that helps me. A hot shower, some comfy pajamas and a cozy book. I like Rosemund Pilcher because she’s sort of soothing.” – Shannon Hitchcock, author

And another app was really popular. It’s called Calm.

“I use the app called Calm. It’s amazing and helps me with my insomnia and my anxiety. It’s got music and stories that help me relax and not stress out as much. It’s so awesome.” – Lindsey Schultz, photographer

 

And there with other people who deliberately moved their brains’ focus via distractions that were sound-based (like an app, but not), which was super interesting to me.

“I’m prone to having that feel like a failure reaction you describe. I turn on the tv or something that shuts my brain down for a couple of hours. That helps and It sounds ridiculous but I’ve noticed listening to people laughing on tv helps even if I’m not paying attention.” – Trish Madell, author

This sort of distraction and laughter is actually a thing that is often used to help with anxiety and depression. Yes! Yes! I know the trite saying that “laughter is the medicine” but there is truth behind that.

Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins battle stress and make our immune systems tougher. Laughter connects us with others and makes us feel less alone. Laughter uses your brain’s whole cortex.

And for us creative people, humor actually makes us more innovative, we’re more apt to improv and make leaps in our thinking. How cool is that?

Do something that makes you laugh. For whatever reason, I always laugh at America’s funniest home videos. This seems stupid, and it’s a little embarrassing to even admit, but no matter how shitty I’m feeling, if I watch enough of them, I’ll laugh and pull myself out of the heaviness of the feeling of failure. On the other hand, I’ve learned to grieve some of my failures. Losing a book contract, for me, felt like such a failure. I tried so hard not to grieve it–to push through–but sometimes we need to grieve the loss and acknowledge the sadness. I’ve even had a friend send me a sympathy card for a book loss because it’s a valid loss, something worth crying about. Not every failure is, but sometimes I think we are too quick to assume we don’t deserve to feel bad.- Jody Sparks, author

So, for my first post in this series, here are the tips that came from my brilliant friends and readers

  1. Find a good app that makes you calm. Use it.
  2. Find the funny. Watch tv. Listen to laugher.

But what both of these things do is that they create a feeling of control.

When you turn on that app and use it to feel better? You are making the choice to feel better.

When you decide to watch something funny to feel better? You are making the choice again. You feel like you are in control, which is so incredibly different than feeling like a failure, isn’t it?

Writing News

I am super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.  And honestly, if you want to help me feel less stressed about failure and the writing world, leaving a review for the books and buying them? That is the best thing you can do for me.

Anyway…

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

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

 

“Sticks the landing . . . The world building is engaging . . . between the decidedly wonderful residents and the terrifying monsters who plague them.” –  BCCB

 

“Amid the magic, spells, adventure, and weirdness of this fantasy are embedded not-so-subtle life lessons about kindness, friendship, and cooperation.” –  Booklist

 

“A wild and fresh take on fantasy with an intriguing cast of characters. Dangerous and scary and fun all rolled into one. In the words of Eva the dwarf, I freaking loved it!” –  Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds series

 

“Effervescent, funny, and genuine.” –  Kirkus Reviews

It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go by the first two books now. 🙂

 

 

 

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of my 16-or-so books, check out my website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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.

writing tips life tips carrie jones books
carrie jones books
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The Time I Almost Killed My Agent & How Being A Bestseller Shouldn’t Be Your End Goal

A long time ago, I thought that when my books made a bestseller’s list my life would suddenly be SUPER glamorous and certain things would happen.

The process of writing is more important than potential failure or success.
She looks like a Home Alone character

What kind of things?

1. I thought my hair wouldn’t need an entire bottle of conditioner every morning so it wouldn’t be tangled.

2. I thought my eyebrows would magically pluck themselves.

3. I thought weird people wouldn’t make up random rumors about me.

Note: I have never been to a party in Las Vegas nor am I the actual devil.

4. I thought my books would stay on the bestsellers list forever and ever or something cool like that and I’d never have to worry about money again.

To be fair: I am pretty much incapable of not worrying about money. There are deep-rooted psychological reasons for this. Those reasons are called, ‘my mother.’

5. I thought I’d suddenly be a really good driver who wouldn’t almost kill my agent.

 

I thought wrong.

One Saturday  a few years ago, my agent of awesome magical agenty things and I actually got to see each other at the New England SCBWI Conference. We were both panelists/speakers. So we went out to lunch off site. I drove my MINI.

Okay. Disclaimers:

1. I live in Maine. We don’t have multi-lane traffic really.
2. I had never driven in Mass before.
3. I  was used to other drivers being nice.

So, we’re on the highway in the slower lane and there were cars EVERYWHERE and we’re all zipping along when I noticed a long line of traffic waiting to merge. A big old tractor-trailer truck was at the head of the line. I  worried about this truck. I have no idea why.

I decided to get into the fast lane so the cars could merge into my lane more easily. I looked over my shoulder to check the blind spot.

Bad idea.

My agent gasped.

The big truck had cut off the car in front of me at a high speed of like 10 mph. AND the car in front of me had COMPLETELY STOPPED MOVING! This meant I was about to ram into the car at 60 mph.

I slammed on the brakes.

Slamming on the brakes made the MINI spasm and jerk. The tires created this cool squeal noise.

I did the Mommy Move. Do you know the Mommy Move? It’s when you slam your arm in front of the person sitting in shotgun because you think:

1. That person is going to die.
2. That their seatbelt is not as effective as your super powerful mommy arm.
3. That you don’t actually need both hands on the steering wheel in this dangerous life or death situation.

So, yes, I mommy-armed my agent.

*Shakes head at self*

But, to be fair. He did grab my arm at the same time in his agent move to try to save me.

You can now imagine everyone in the car screaming.

You can also imagine me thinking, “Oh. We aren’t dead. I did not kill my agent before the panel. Okay. Good. Okay… Good author. Good author.”

The best part? As soon as we started up again my agent was like, “Um. Carrie? I drive back from the restaurant, okay?”

The other best part? The agent was still alive and he didn’t die before the panel. And also, he totally paid for the food. Score!

But I guess the bigger point is that while a couple of my books made the New York Times bestseller lists they didn’t stay there forever, which is such a total bummer in terms of money and making a living and all that stuff.

However, whatever.

Seriously.

Just whatever.

I was so lucky that it happened, right? Lucky and I worked hard. I still work hard. And it was super cool. But it didn’t completely change my life and make my eyebrows better. Here’s why:

I don’t know how not to write.

“Wait. What?” you’re probably saying.

Here it is though: 

Being successful didn’t inspire me to write more or to slack off or even make me feel like less of an imposter sometimes. It’s just a thing that was, a weird metric of what our society claims is ‘success.’

My Post-15

Even if I never was traditionally published again – even if I self published and nobody ever read another one of my books – I would create stories. That’s just all there is to it:  I really don’t know how not to write books or communicate through blogs or art or social media or news columns.

I don’t know how not write. Are you like this? Because it means something. Whatever it is that you don’t know how NOT to do? That is what you’re meant to do.

So, while having the tag – NYT bestselling or internationally bestselling (Thank you, France, for starting that) – is super cool? It doesn’t matter. What matters is doing what I love and surviving.

And that’s the thing. It doesn’t matter what you are as an occupation, you have to find something you are passionate about, something that you can’t imagine not doing – and do it. Do it over and over again. Hone your skills. Craft your crafty craft. Love the people or dogs or cats or manatees that you love. Do the work. Enjoy it. Feel blessed that you get to do it. Because you are. Blessed. Choose to be blessed.

joy as process - make it about the journey of writing rather the goal of having a bestseller
Look! She is so super happy. She even has a balloon!

My mom wanted to be a teacher all her life. She never got to college. In New Hampshire, they don’t let you teach if you don’t go to college. She never got to do what she loved even though she was so smart.

One of my favorite friends is an emergency dispatcher for our town. She’s not super into that. What she’s super into is baking, taking nature photos and making people happy and look at what she’s building – this perfect business that combines all those passions. That is a huge risk for her, but she’s taking it. Why? Because she loves it. And by doing it she’s making herself and so many other people happy.

That’s the thing – this life is so short. If you have an opportunity to pursue your passion, do it. You are so lucky to have the opportunity to do that. And you have to make the opportunity to do that. Don’t let your feel of failing keep you from trying or going after your goals.

Failure doesn't exist if you enjoy the process

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be so super grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest. Thank you! I know it’s a super small thing, but it means so much to me.

WRITING NEWS AND STUFF

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,  I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council and this weekend I’ll be in Cornwall, Ontario talking to a massive troop of Rotarians about public image. Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn classthat 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 AND WRITE. 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.”

I swear, I did not pay anyone to say that. I didn’t even ask them to say it. The Writing Barn just told me that the feedback had intensely kind things like that.

Write Submit Support
Look. A typewriter.

FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

These books are out there in the world thanks to Tor.

What books? Well, 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 actionSchool Library Journal

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

And finally, I’ve added a contact form in case you’d like to be on my email list. If you subscribe to my posts via WordPress then those come to your email whenever I post. To do that click on SUBSCRIBE, but this is to sign up for my random newsletter, which I basically only do when something big happens like a book is coming out or I’m going on tour or something  or I’m giving away a story for free – so basically two to three times a year.

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan

This post about Friday Writing Life is basically about me almost dying thanks to the devil and an ankle brace.

I go through most of my life feeling pretty lucky. I have a place to live. I have food. I’m not under constant threat of violence. That’s all pretty sweet and it hasn’t always been that way for me.

And part of the way that it’s happened is that I just keep working and doing and going after things, but not in a despot way, but in an “Everyone let’s make this world better together!” kind of way.

Part of determining what you’re passionate about is asking yourself if you’d do what you’re doing even if you made no money at all. For me, being a writer, is just something I do. I can’t imagine not doing it. And I feel lucky and blessed that I get to do it for a living and also help other people do it, too.

I like that so freaking much.

I like it when I get to witness  other people shine.

And it impacts me way too much when they suffer, or make mistakes, and recently a scam call made such a horrible mistake that I thought I’d share it with you.

This week, I got this phone call from “headquarters” about how I had “four complaints against me” and the “local cops” would come get me unless I called a specific number back in 24 hours.

And here’s the thing – people in positions of power who are threatening you with jail time for ‘four complaints,’ don’t call the local authorities, ‘cops.’ They call them police. Or law enforcement. But not ‘cops.’ Word choice matters. That’s your writing lesson of the post.

But….

The call made me think of the other interesting and randomly threatening phone calls that have happened in my life.  I think my favorite ones are where I am threatened not by ‘local cops,’ but by the actual devil himself. Because honestly? If you’re going to get threatened why not by the ultimate in evil, am I right?

Crank Calls from the Devil. The writing life.
Or just a devil duck?

So, anyway, those of you who are my friends on Facebook heard how I got this crank call on another Monday night awhile ago.

That time, the caller said, “Prepare to die, Satan claims you, Carrie.”

And I was all, “Hm. Wait! Can you not hang up so quickly, creepy-voiced man, because I would like to try to discuss this and maybe argue Satan out of it!”

But he hung up.

Apparently, Satan does not like to argue with random children’s book writers? Who knew?

And I was all, “Man, that was so creepy it was kind of funny.”

This is pretty much my response to everything creepy. Floating apparition? I laugh. Possible UFO? I laugh. Weird man running away after ringing my doorbell? Hold on, while I giggle. It’s sort of my defense mechanism for all bad things; I fight them with humor. It’s either that or screaming and screaming hurts your throat if you do it for too long.

I have other defense mechanisms. These are called dogs.

So, for the whole night I was basically all,  “Dogs. Come Velcro yourselves to my sides.”

Gabby: Carrie, we are always Velcroed to your sides. Geesh. *shakes doggy head*

And then because I had no attention span I kind of forgot about the call from the devil because I was busy writing and living and writing more.

But two days later, I almost died.

Really.

I was driving to this cool conference of librarians in Maine and I was on the turnpike and wearing the ankle brace from hell. That point of origin is just like the devil I guess, although originally he was from heaven.

The brace, which was on my left foot, suddenly flopped onto the brake. Now, basically the ankle brace from hell was so heavy and thick I could stand on a puppy and not notice. So, when the car lurched and lost 40 mph (like I was going 70 and then was going 30)  JUST AS I WAS PASSING A LOGGING TRUCK (because – Maine), and the car’s tires made this weird noise AND the car behind me wiggled all around to avoid the collision (Nice Driving, Mr. Car Driving Guy, btw), I realized that something was going on.

Fortunately, the brace was not on a poor little puppy.

Unfortunately, it was on my brake.

This is a brace about 1/4 the size of my monster. 

And I yelled, “Get thee behind me, Satan,” because obviously all the Friday nights that the Albertsons brought me to Pioneer Girls at Calvary Baptist Church in New Hampshire had conditioned me more than I realized. They were trying so hard to save my first-grade self’s soul. Apparently, Satan thought they failed.

Anyways, I moved the brace and kept going and then got to Augusta (where the conference was) and totally cried. I mean, I sobbed.

Seriously. I was a total wuss because:

1. I did not want that crank caller to be right.
2. I did not want to die because of my stupid ankle brace from hell.
3. I almost got the people in the car behind me hurt, too, and that’s something I couldn’t have lived with.

So, yeah. If you feel like someone is about to crank you and tell you that you’re about to die and that the devil has claimed your soul: DO NOT PICK UP THE PHONE!

That’s my brilliant life lesson here. Don’t pick up the phone if the devil is calling, or even if you just think it’s a scam caller who is going to send the ‘local cops’ after you. Life is too short to have the evil beside you or in front of you or blabbering on into your ear. Put it behind you where it belongs.

WSSTypeWriter-300x300

WRITING NEWS AND APPEARANCES AND STUFF:

Okay. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this, but I earned out my picture book biography of Sara Emma Edmonds!!!!

This is such a huge thing for me that I can’t begin to tell you how cool it feels especially since it’s with this picture book. Sara was this cool woman who dressed like a man so she could fight in the U.S. Civil War, but then her superiors asked her to dress like a woman and spy on the other side. So, she was a woman dressed like a man dressed like a woman and taking names the entire time. So amazing. Thank you so much to everyone who bought it!

Unknown

 

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 AND WRITE. 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.”

I swear, I did not pay anyone to say that. I didn’t even ask them to say it. The Writing Barn just told me that the feedback had intensely kind things like that.

FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

These books are out there in the world thanks to Tor.

What books? Well, 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 actionSchool Library Journal

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

 

Dogs Are Smarter Than People – the podcast.

Shaun and I are total dorks in really different ways. You can tell when you listen to the podcasts, which come out every Tuesday.

We give writing tips, life tips, random thoughts. Occasionally, the dogs bark. Thank you so much to the thousands of people who have listened already. You guys are really amazing and our minds are basically blown by all of your support.

 

 

 

The Dog Takes Over the Blog Because Carrie Has Writer Waiting Syndrome

Everyone, Carrie is not paying attention to anything because she’s in Writer Waiting Mode.

So, I, Gabby the Dog have taken over the blog when I’m not busy barking at nothing. Spoiler Alert: I am almost always busy barking at nothing.

Carrie Jones Books
Gabby’s normal expression when she’s not barking

Let’s talk about Carrie though. She’s in the place called Writer Waiting Mode, which is what happens to writers when they are done typing on the flat thing and wait for someone to respond. That someone might be an agent, an editor, a teacher, a critique partner, or Chris Evans. Who knows? Writers make no sense.

But Carrie’s got the sickness full on.

How to take care of your pathetic writer - some dog tips
Owls are cute

Writer Waiting Mode symptoms include:


1. Panic eyes.
2. Failure to eat or increased appetite. It depends on the writer.
3. Pacing, which leads to callused feet.
4 Constant barely coherent murmuring, “Please let the editor like it. Please let the editor like it. Please let the editor like it.”

So basically this doggy needs some love as does my author. But let’s talk about me.

I would like to announce that normally I look like this:

Carrie Jones Books NYT bestselling author's writing tips and life tips. Plus, dogs.
This is a happy dog

But lately I’ve been looking like this:

Carrie Jones Books NYT bestselling author's writing tips and life tips. Plus, dogs.
I look a little bit like I’ve been doing naughty things, don’t I?

See the difference? My eyes are narrow and I’m hazy and the whole scene is tinted brown? THAT IS BECAUSE CARRIE IS SO OUT OF IT!

There are certain proper care and maintenance steps that you must do to ensure your writer survives this waiting game. They follow below:

  1. Bark at them until they take you outside. Writers need air and exercise. Make sure to put the leash in their hand so you don’t lose them. Writers in this head space tend to wander.
  2. Bark at the refrigerator so that they remember to feed you and themselves.
  3. Bark at the bed so they don’t stay in it all the time.
  4. Bark at them so they remember they are alive.
  5. Cuddle with them. Writers need a lot of love.

So, wish her luck. Wish me luck! I’m going off to go bark at her now.

NYT bestselling kids book Carrie Jones gives writing and life tips.
Dogs work so hard for us

Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Reviewsays:  A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast,DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday. All the episodes links are on this page.

This podcast is weird, quirky, and totally authentic. I mean, you can tell we are goofy people just trying to share some writing tips and life tips and we are not sitting in the NPR studio. I mean look at us. We’re total dorks.

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Look, they made a pull quote!
Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones Time Stoppers, Book 2, Quest for the Golden Arrow, middle grade fantasy based in Maine
Look! They made another pull quote.

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.