“We help ourselves through it.” Surviving Darkness

Normally on Mondays, I write about life and things that I’ve observed, things that are happening. Sometimes, I use actual citations.

Gasp!

I know! I know! Citations.

But this Monday,  my blog is going to be a little raw. That’s because I think my heart is a little raw.

I spent the weekend in Houston, Texas, hanging out with the amazing crew at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston. I went there shortly after what is being called as the worst attack against Jews in our country.

On the way to the event, I rode over with this brilliant, beautiful woman, her 10-year-old daughter and author and awesome human Ethan Berlin. The driver’s daughter told me about the last time she saw our hotel, which was a year ago.

“It was during Harvey,” her mom added. “We came over in a tank.”

“Did you get to go inside the tank?” I asked.

The girl’s eyes lit up. She did. The hotel room was nice, too.

“It was pretty,” she said, but I could tell from her expression that it was all scary, too. Really scary.

Then the mother-daughter duo told us about how sometimes when it rains really hard, they get scared again, remembering the 49-inches of rain and devastation that Hurricane Harvey brought to their home, their community center, and their neighborhood.

“We help ourselves through it,” the mom said. “I taught her how to deal with it, but last week? She was the one who helped me remember how to cope.”

And I honestly almost lost it in the back seat of their car, hugging my backpack that held a puppet of Moe Berg, sitting next to this beautiful, brilliant kid. Because their love, their pain, and their pride in each other was so poignant and real.

It was so real.

We gathered around before the events started and talked about getting through things again. It was just tiny snippets of conversation, but this beautiful rabbi took it all in as everyone quickly connected with their trauma, their pains, the moments in their lives that were so big and catastrophic that they come back again and again, a refrain in a song that echoes.

“We all have those moments,” she said.

We do.

Later in the day, we were signing books in the most amazing pop-up bookstore ever, and a balloon broke, making that horrible snap that reminds so many people of gun shots and there was this moment – this absolute second immediately afterwards – where everyone paused, silent, trying to figure out what that noise was.

And then everything went back to normal, kids singing songs, grabbing books, moms and dads herding them around to authors and events, spending their Sunday celebrating kids, books, literacy and each other.

And it was beautiful. It was so beautiful.

This center serves 1,000 people every day. This time-lapse video shows how 12 feet of water ended up filling the 35,000-square-feet center. And they rebuilt. It is beautiful. People and kids filled that building again this past weekend. The community survived. The building survived. But it’s more than that. They thrived.

They helped themselves through it.

In this community are so many families, so many stories of good times, of bad, of helping themselves through things and coming out the other side as beautiful moments of light, connection, of poetry, of souls. And there is so much that this country, that this world, can learn about the act of coming together, of community, of connection, of helping each other through it.

If you haven’t voted yet, please vote tomorrow. Please vote on the ideas and ideas that resonate with you. Politics is more than attack ads. Politicians shape and create the laws and tenor of our nation. They support or deconstruct what our government and its branches actually are and what they can be.

And even after you’ve voted, please try to choose paths and actions that create goodness, equality, not disenfranchisement and hate. When we come together as communities, especially as intersectional communities, that’s when we evolve both as individuals and as a nation. Respect for difference and discourse goes a long way. But what doesn’t go along way? Killing each other. Oppressing each other.

We shouldn’t all be terrified when a balloon pops. We should be people who rebuild and thrive. We should be people who go to places of worship, walk in parking lots, go to schools and yoga studios and our own homes without being afraid, without being vulnerable.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s  out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

 

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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.