Be Brave Friday–Finding Awe in a Tomato

I tell the story about one of my grandmother’s a lot. She was born in 1896, which means she’d be 127 now if she was still alive, which is kind of staggering. She died in 2001, which if my math is right, means she made it to 104, which is pretty staggering, too. My dad was her youngest child and I was his youngest child by a lot, which is why I’m not 80 right now.

Anyway, my grandmother was about 4-foot-10 and she loved art and books and music and deep thought. She wasn’t a positive person. This was not a woman who would give you a pep talk. Ever. I mean, if you think about it, she’d lived through two world wars and a depression.

She painted. She was embarrassed by her creations and would hide if her sons bragged about them.

She wrote poems. She said they were swill.

But she had this appreciation—this state of awe—for so many things.

She’d see a perfectly formed tomato and tears would come to her eyes. She’d touch her grandchild’s (or great grandchild’s) arm or cheek and marvel at the softness, the texture, the youth of their skin, the clarity of their eyes. She greatly appreciated things—small things and refined things.

A painting by me.

Because she fed a family during the Great Depression in Staten Island, she would wax poetic, in total awe, over butchering a piece of meat and bemoan the state of meat in grocery stores in the 1990s (and probably before that).

According to the Greater Good Magazine, “Awe is the feeling we get in the presence of something vast that challenges our understanding of the world, like looking up at millions of stars in the night sky or marveling at the birth of a child. When people feel awe, they may use other words to describe the experience, such as wonder, amazement, surprise, or transcendence.”

Every time I put something out (art, a news story, a blog post, a book, even something as simple as a Facebook post), I think of my grammy and how cool it would have been if she could have been okay with not being perfect and with sharing things she might want to share. I remember my little kid self looking at her paintings with awe and reading her poems and trying to understand the mystery in the enjambments and in the lines. I had fierce grandmothers, too. But Grammy Barnard? She was the one who fell in love with the world, one skin touch, one tomato, at a time.

May you feel awe today. May you be brave enough and open enough to let a tomato’s perfection bring you to tears. May you marvel in beauty of skin. May you inhale the world around you and embrace those things that make your understanding a tiny bit bigger.

Grandmother’s Poems

They are words fading, written in bright blue pen. Ball point.

They are words scrawling across the page, the closer in time they are to me, the messier they become.

They are words about being new, about birds flying across the Ontario sky, the pain and guilt of losing a cat to winter and the streets of Staten Island.

They are words singing upside down and across the paper. 

My father keeps them in his roll top desk and hands them to me in the kitchen where her china sat in shelves on the wall. His hands shake as he passes another journal of words over. I take their case, brown, cracked leather. I open the binding and peer inside at their mystery.

“Your grandmother was a poet,” he says. 

I hold her words in my hands. “I never knew.”



My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary. It’s a bit paranormal. It’s a bit romantic. And it’s 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


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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale



You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps).

Check it out here.


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. 

Three Quick Ways to Make A Good Book Better – and also my nana said I was different. Not in a nice way.

Before she died, I heard my Nana Morse say to my sister, “Well, you know Carrie has always been a little… different.”

My sister nodded pretty emphatically in agreement.

“She’s just so different,” she said.

She said this ALL throughout my growing up.

She wasn’t wrong

Nana Morse was worried about this – about me being different. She also worried that I didn’t get enough protein. Or why I dressed so ‘differently.’

And honestly, I was so used to not fitting into my family by then that my only reaction was, “She just used the word ‘different’ to describe me twice. That’s not really creative of her. I wish I could edit her word choice a bit.”

So, yeah, she was obviously right.

When I was little, my Avó Palreiro took me aside and said, “You be you. To hell with everyone else.”

And then she glared at my nana.

Only one of my grandmothers would approve of this picture. 

The thing is that different is okay. Different is good. Different can be stigmatic and incite bullies and all sorts of negative things, but different is also innovative.  Different people who take action? They make changes in this world. This world needs positive change. So, if you feel a bit different or if your family or others are mocking you for it? Well, they suck, honestly.  Ignore the suck. Be you.



Here are some things I (should) think about when I’m revising. Hopefully, they’ll help you out, too. I’ve taken them from James Plath’s article “Twenty-One Tweaks to a Better Tale,” but adapted them to fit me.  Why? Because I’m different like that.

1. Does the beginning need to be an ending?

Sometimes our beginnings stink.

Beginnings need to be:


How do you do that? You could use a powerful piece of dialogue, a witty description, or a stunning scene.

Sometimes we writers have to amp up, sort of rev our engines before we start the race of the story.

My engine is revving. Shh…..
Sidenote: Some of us never get started.

It’s okay to cross entire paragraphs or a chapter out.  It’s okay to do what it takes to make your beginning awesome.

2. Check Out How It Ends

Just like a beginning needs to be powerful or witty or stunning to draw us in like a really good appetizer, the ending has to linger (not in the way heartburn lingers). The ending has to resonate. Is there a way to echo earlier images or words or a phrase so that it has that extra kick, making the reader realize that there are deeper things going on, that there is a deeper meaning, that this story or poem somehow touches on the truth that is life?

3. Make Love to the Image

Have an image that resonates throughout the story. In the movie Brokeback Mountain it’s when one guy is hugging the other guy from behind him or it’s when he says, “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

Think about a book like Carolyn Coman’s MANY STONES or THE HOBBIT or CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. There are central images in there. Do that. Use an image. A strong image will keep your story in readers’ memories.

Gabby’s central image for her life is basically this. 

Random Marketing and Book Things

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m still super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

Kirkus Review says:  Jones gives readers the sketchy details of Berg’s life and exploits in carefully selected anecdotes, employing accessible, straightforward syntax.

And also says: A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

Booklist says it’s: An appealing picture-book biography. . . Written in concise sentences, the narrative moves along at a steady pace.  

This is lovely of them to say.

The Spy Who Played Baseball








I’ll be in Exeter, New Hampshire, on a panel for the release of THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID.

Thursday, March 15, 2018 – 7:00pm
Water Street Bookstore
125 Water Street
Exeter, NH 03833
Things We Haven't Said: Sexual Violence Survivors Speak Out Cover Image

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is still real. I’m still terrified.

My Post-2 copy

There are new podcasts every Tuesday and our handle on the tech gets better as you go along. I promise.

We talk about love, marriage, living in Maine with dogs and also give writing and life tips with linked content back on the blog. It’s um – cough – different.

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