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.

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Eyebrows and Taking Chances

A long time ago, I got new eyebrows.  That’s right. I did the eyebrow shaping thing. If you know me in real life, you will realize that this is stunning news. I’m going to write about that eyebrow event today. 

And yes, I could post something intelligent about the anti-multiple plot point aesthetic in young adult novels, or how discontinuities and detours excite me, but noooo ….

It’s all about eyebrows and taking chances. I have a really hard time doing certain things:

  1. Sitting still
  2. Looking at myself in the mirror.
  3. Spending money on myself.

    Let me tell you, this was a big-deal thing for me at the time because you have to sit still while professionals pluck your eyebrows and they do it in front of a mirror and they charge you, so grooming my eyebrows was hitting all those three things. In good news? I look A LOT better with new eyebrows. 
    And it DID NOT HURT.

    The nice eyebrow professional lady smiled at me as I checked out her lovely eyebrows and avoided looking in the giant mirror.

    I said, “I do not want old lady non-existent eyebrows. I do not want penciled-in eyebrows. Please do not do that to me.”
    She said, “I hate those.”

I whimpered. 

“It’ll be okay,” she said.
“Is it going to hurt?” I asked.

She nodded. “Probably.”

Then she put the goop on and yanked and it was SO ABSOLUTELY FINE! 
“That didn’t hurt,” I said.
“I used the small strips.”
“That’s amazing,” I said as she showed me the hair she yanked off. 

Then I started to giggle like I was, um, five years old and just saw the bottom of the cutest kid in kindergarten.

I could not stop giggling the entire time she did it, which was … probably four minutes at the most.

She said, “I love it when you come in.”


I giggled more.


She said, “You just kill me.”


Then she showed me my eyebrows and I bounced up and down.

And for some reason, I never went back again! I know! I know! It’s because I’m cheap. I couldn’t get over that part.

But the thing is. We can’t grow if we don’t take chances, if we don’t rip out our extra, ugly spots and examine them. We can’t grow if we don’t scrutinize ourselves and invest in ourselves.

That’s important because I know we all want to be the best people we can be even if that means checking out our reflection and seeing bits of ourselves we don’t want to see.

Take a chance. Scrutinize. Invest. Love yourself enough to grow yourself, weird eyebrows and all.

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 233,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Last week’s episode.

Last week’s bonus episode with Anne Marie Pace, author of Vampirina Ballerina.

COME WRITE WITH ME! 

I coach, have a class, and edit things. 


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.

What Was It Like To Get a MFA When You Are From Maine and Have Social Anxiety

If you guys don’t know, Vermont College of Fine Arts offers a master’s program specifically for writing for children and young adults. This is a very cool thing. They actually accepted me and I got a degree there. Eventually, I was even awarded a Distinguished Alum degree at a surprise event in D.C, which was ridiculously cool and a great line for my obituary.

But when I started? I didn’t think I would ever get that far. That’s because I get super shy and social anxious about public events. I present an extrovert, but I basically have stage fright about things like singing in public, or going to board meetings or parties. I still go, but I get anxious ahead of time.

I was so anxious about going to Vermont. I was a newspaper editor. That is not the same as writing books for kids and I would be surrounded by people who were devoted to the craft of writing and that seemed so scary.

What was going to Vermont like?

Um…. It was great. No plots were stolen. I did not go to jail or die. All in all? I’d say it was a success.

But when I first got there it was a more than a little scary. I was petrified. You know how when you go into the cafeteria and realize that you know absolutely nobody. No, seriously, and everyone else looks like they know everybody else and so you just stand there with your tray … wondering how you can go into the kitchen and eat with the cooks because they seem really nice … the cooks. 

And then you meet all the other people in your class and it feels like everyone is SOOOOOOOOO much cooler than you are and they all sort of have roles.

There was HE WHO WRITES YA SEX SCENES and SHE OF THE PEACEFUL POETRY and MAGICAL URBAN FANTASY WOMAN and PICTURE BOOK GURU and I AM FLUFFY and then of course, THE ONE CUTE GUY. This is a children’s writer’s program. There is usually one cute guy. There is also usually one ridiculously beautiful woman.

(Note: We were a rocking class because there were actually three cute boys out of our 18 writers. There was also three beautiful women. This made our class ultra-cool.)

Anyway, I felt like I didn’t fit in because everyone else was so cool,  and basically I almost had a complete nervous breakdown the first residency until Lisa Jahn Clough talked me down and said, “Carrie, writers never feel like they fit in. That’s why we’re writers.”

And I said, “But I’m from Maine. I’m not used to all these people talking everywhere about writing. Actually, I’m not used to people, which is part of why I wear a parka inside buildings at all times. You can hide in a parka and pretend to be a snowman or something.”

And she said, “I know. I’m from Maine too, but it’s good. Really. It’s sometimes overwhelming, but it’s good. And parkas are fine.”

And it turned out she was right. 

Everyone in my class at Vermont helped each other and HE WHO WRITES SEX SCENES eventually WROTE PEACEFUL POETRY, occasionally and MAGICAL URBAN FANTASY WOMAN wrote an occasional picture book, and everyone in my class just basically loved each other, creating a happy ending much better than any 1980s teen movie and we eventually all crunched up together and looked all emotional and dramatic but right together. And we connected and learned.

And I kind of miss it because as Molly Ringwald (1980s actress always wearing pink or black) said in the movie, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone“Us loners got to stick together.”

And you know? Writers wrote that line. And they also wrote that movie. Which is why we all need to support each other because sometimes… well… we writers stink.

Anyway, I really miss learning about craft instead of teaching about craft and becoming an exponentially better writer because of these other amazing writer/teachers.


And I really miss throwing cookies at people in the cafeteria and then looking all happy-faced.

Us loners got to stick together, baby, and that counts for writers and readers both, and writing programs give us writers a place to do it. So congratulations to all my friends who are starting programs, and to all my friends who aren’t. Because, basically, we all have our own paths and they are all cool. 

Well, almost all of us.

As C. JoyBell C. says,

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” 

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s episode link.

Last week’s interview with writer Jordan Scavone! 


Continue reading “What Was It Like To Get a MFA When You Are From Maine and Have Social Anxiety”

Questions People Ask Me About Writing and If I’m Successful or Just Weird

People ask me questions a lot because I’m a writer and I’ve had some success at it. And also because I have no filter.

Last week this student I was mentoring asked me:

Are you a successful writer?

And I said, “I’ve made NYT bestseller lists and some of my books were internationally bestsellers, so I guess so. It looks good in my obituary.”

He then cracked up and inhaled and coughed a tiny bit and I felt bad.

But truthfully, I don’t feel like a successful writer. I don’t feel like an unsuccessful writer, either. Success is what you make of it, you know. It’s about how you define it, not how your c/v or resume or obituary defines it. It’s especially not how other people define it.

You define you. That’s my mantra.

HOW ARE YOU SO PRODUCTIVE?

There’s a lot of clap back right now about not being productive and taking the pause and embracing the gaps and I’m all for that if that works for you. It does not work for me. I live in my moments, I promise, but I actually love creating things and writing things and helping other people create and write things? So, I don’t think of it as being productive. I think of it as doing. And as long as I have energy I want to be doing.

But, um, also I constantly stress a bit about running out of money, so I try to figure out new ways to survive. I should probably get therapy for that, but again – I’m cheap and therapy costs money in the U.S. So, I’ll keep making a podcast, expanding it, being a writing coach, editing, having a Patreon and writing books and making paintings. It’s all fun. It’s all good. I wouldn’t want to not create. I’d feel lost.

What Do You Do When You Get Writer’s Block?

I write something else even if it’s just, “Blah.Blah. Blah. I hate writer’s block. It is the biggest stupid evil thing ever.”

If that doesn’t work, I set a timer and clean for 15 minutes. I tell myself I will have to clean the toilet if I don’t write 500 words. That evil threat usually gets things done.

Are you writing something right now?

Always.

See above where I talk about needing therapy because I have a compulsion to be production. I am so lucky to be a writer. I don’t want to lose that. This means I am always working on something. To be fair, I don’t know how to not work on something.

Are You Short?

No. My husband is just ridiculously tall.

Are you drunk?

Nope.

On illegal drugs?

Nope. I’m just really weird. I am the person at the party that other people point at and say, “You are so wasted,” but I haven’t imbibed at all.

Is Maine Creepy?

Occasionally, but only because I live here.

What’s the Hardest Part About Writing?

Stopping. And worrying that no human will ever actually read it.

What’s the Easiest Part of Writing?

I love everything else about writing.

Weirdest thing that ever happened to you at a public event.

A bookseller bit another bookseller while they were waiting in line to get my book. Actually, one of them might have been a librarian.

Weirdest Thing that ever happened to you in Maine.

There are so many. Ghost stories? Weird noises in the woods. Seeing the Obama family in my town eating ice cream? The naked man at the door. There are a lot of stories.

Do You Get to Work in Your Pajamas?

Yes! Yes! A hundred times yes.

Are Parentheticals demons (from hell)?

Yes, and so are their first cousins, the ellipses….


Here’s the link to this week’s bonus podcast, an interview with Jordan Scavone.

Here’s the link to this week’s regular podcast, Zoombombing, Tiger King and are Your Family Members Killing You During the COVID Lockdown?

AND FINALLY, MY NEW PATREON STORY

And over on Patreon, I’m starting a new story this week! It’s a chapter a month if you want to check it out. It basically costs $1 a month to listen to my story and $3 a month to read it. There’s a new chapter every week. It’s super fun; I promise. AND SO CHEAP. Help this neurotic writer eventually afford therapy and join the community!

WRITING NEWS! 

THE WRITING COURSE OF AWESOME

It’s our very own writing course! 

Basically, it’s set up a bit like a distance MFA program, only it costs a lot less and also has a big element of writer support built in. This program costs $125 a month and runs for four-month sessions and starts in April 2020 

To find out more, check out this link. It’s only $125 a month, so it’s a super good deal. Come write with us! 


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. 

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

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 order it here. 

Don’t Be Like My Mom. You Can’t Run From Fear; You’ve Got to Snarl at It Instead

It all began with my mom freaking out about a feather.

My mom has always been afraid of birds. That fear started long before I existed and was made worse by a visit to a science museum in Boston where an owl swooped near her head and glared at her. Apparently, that powerful owl glare was enough to push her over the edge.

I wasn’t allowed to have bird feeders or stuffed animal birds. If there were robins outside on our lawn, Mom would avert her eyes and draw the shades in the windows.

My mother’s fear of birds grew so big that she screeched when I was four years old and proudly brought a peacock feather home from a nursery school field trip to a wild animal farm. I was so psyched about this feather, which I won by answering a bunch of animal questions correctly.

The feather made me feel super smart for the first time in my little life. It was my prize and my reward and I was the only one in the whole nursery school who received one. It was like a Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer in my four-year-old head. It was such a super big deal and I knew — I just was absolutely positive — that my mom would be psyched and put it on the wall and maybe frame it or something while she announced to all her friends, “My youngest daughter, Carrie? She is so smart. So smart, I tell you! See this feather? It proves it.”

When I presented the coveted prize to my mom, she screamed and made me throw the feather outside.

“Get it out! Get that dirty thing out of our house!” she yelled. Actually, she screeched.

I remember pivoting in our heavily wooded, dark kitchen, running out to the screened-in porch, and into our yard. I took the peacock feather to a giant boulder where I played deserted island and Wizard of Oz and all my lonely made-up games, and I climbed up to the top of the rock.

Once there, I kissed the feather, the dirty thing, goodbye. I cried because it was so beautiful and I won it and then I had to let it go.

I let that beautiful feather go. I didn’t hold onto it the way we tend to hold onto our fears. It is just so hard to let go of our fears. That’s especially true for my poor mom who wouldn’t go to friends’ houses if they had birds in cages. She hated the beach because birds were at the beach. Every year black birds would hang out on our front lawn during their migration. There would be hundreds of them. She’d call in sick to work. Her fear held her back over and over again.

Years after the peacock incident, my mom ran screaming from a park where we were having a picnic with my daughter who was then two. A seagull had come too close. Too close was about a football field away.

When I caught up with my mom, she was standing in the doorway of a local restaurant, shaking.

“Don’t judge me!” she said. She was reapplying her lipstick with a shaking hand.

I grabbed her hand in mine because the lipstick application was not going well.

“I’m not judging you,” I told her, “but I don’t want Em to grow up afraid.”

That’s when I realized that my mom missed out on so much of life even though she was the liveliest, absolutely most alive person I knew. She missed out because she listened to her fear.

My daughter grew up to study Krav Maga in Israel, to apply and get in to Harvard, to become a field artillery officer in the Army. She’s jumped off roofs at stunt camp, log rolled, rock climbed, was the flyer of her cheerleading squad. She is known for picking up birds that she finds in parking lots, shopping centers, and bringing them to safety.

She is bold and unafraid most of the times. She’s not a fan of spiders, but she deals with them. Even when she is afraid, she faces her fears, snarls at them, and tells them to stand down.

She made my poor mom’s heart race and palpitate more than once.

Even for those of us who don’t have phobias like my Mom, the biggest fears that we have are often the ones about not being enough, not smart enough, not loved enough, just not enough. Of failure. Of being imperfect. Of being alone. There are so many fears we punish ourselves with. But we don’t have to listen to those fears. We can face the fears, see them for what they are and ignore the fears’ advice to cower, to yell, to blame, to run away.

My mother was afraid of a feather.

A feather.

And our fears? The ones we hold inside of us? The ‘not good enough’ moments that feel so dam real? They are even less substantial than that feather.

That’s right. Those fears are not even as heavy as a feather, nowhere near as substantial. Still, we let them hurt us and hold us back.

Here’s the thing: You don’t have to let them hold you back.

Here’s the other thing: You can’t ignore your fear and you can’t give in to it. You have to jump headlong into the scariness and embrace the fear and snarl at it and know what it is. What is it? Fear is that voice that rings so loudly in your brain telling you what to do or what not to do. When you refuse to listen to it? That’s when you win.

You can beat your fears.

What are you afraid of? What makes you shake and cower? Not your phobias. But your fears. Are you afraid of failing so much that you don’t try to succeed? Bankruptcy? Not being loved? Commitment? Being evil? Being good? Being taken advantage of? Taking advantage of others? Face them head on because those fears are keeping you from being your best self.

I’m trying to be my best self. I fail a lot! So much! But I hope you’ll grab my hand even when it’s shaking and try with me. I think we can do this. Together.

Email or comment if you want to say hi and talk about it, okay?

Latest podcast is here!


Continue reading “Don’t Be Like My Mom. You Can’t Run From Fear; You’ve Got to Snarl at It Instead”

When Good Dogs Go Bad

When Good Dogs Go Bad

 
 
00:00 / 00:22:30
 
1X
 

So, a long time ago Carrie had a dog named Scotty, and she used to fill in at the police department as a dispatcher. For those of you who don’t know, she dispatched part-time because even though she made enough money writing (right then) she got worried that:

Carrie’s Worries

1. I will suddenly make no money at all

2. I need to build up social security benefits

3. I will forget how to interact with other humans if I’m always at home. 

ONE DAY HER GOOD DOGS WENT BAD

So, she worked from 3:30 to 11:30 pm and when she came home Tala and Scotty, her dogs, greeted her at the door, all doggy happy.

Scotty was her new dog and he was a rescue dog from Alabama who was in a kill shelter, and for a long time we have thought that he was perhaps a grandpa who liked crawfish and Bud Lite a lot and was somehow caught in a dog’s body – like he was a shapeshifter who got stuck.  He had a puncture wound in his neck when he got to Maine, two small holes. So, a vampire with a shapeshifting virus was possibly to blame. 

Carrie had decided this was a true possibility. Already, she’d witnessed him:

1. Get ice out of the refrigerator.
2. Use his paw on a door handle to open a door.

And then when Carrie came home late, she saw a drawer that had been COMPLETELY shut when she left the house, and it was now open. Food was strewn everywhere. This meant Scotty grabbed the drawer with his mouth and got it open at least a little bit and then he either wedged his nose in or something and opened it more. 

Why would he do that? Oh, he was probably sick of dog food and bored because she was gone. Which is doggy behaviour, we know,

Side note: Dog saliva combined with powdered sugar on a wood floor creates a glue-like paste that is impossible to vacuum or mop up. It must be attacked with Clorox bleach wipes. Carrie swears. She did not know this until that night. 

And finally, though they ate peanut butter chips and brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar and Crisco shortening and Shepard’s pie mix and Italian seasoning mix, they did NOT eat chocolate!

Chocolate KILLS dogs. 

And the dogs left it, only tearing open the end.

Carrie sort of imagined Scotty holding Tala back and saying, “Baby. It smells good, but it’s poison. It will kill us. Lets go lick up the sugar.”

He’s totally human

You know it, baby. Now go get me a beer while I lick the sugar off this here rug.

Writing Tip OF THE POD

What does all this have to do with writing? It’s like what we were talking about in our Random Thought in the Car (you have to listen to hear that and about Carrie’s accident). All stories aren’t good ones. All people aren’t perfect. The best writing is when those little imperfections about character or people peek through.

And use everything for your stories. Mine your lives and your dogs’ lives, too.

Dog Tip For Life

Dude. Do not eat the chocolate. Have some self control.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

WRITING NEWS

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! 

You can 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

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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. 

Shoving it to the Mean People

So when good writing things happen or podcasting or art things happen, I sometimes have a little moment where the word “HA!” snarks out of my lips.

I really know that I have so much to learn still as a writer and as a person, I really do, but part of the reason that I am so ultra-psyched is that back in seventh grade one of my teachers actually told me: 

“CARRIE BARNARD , YOU WILL NEVER MAKE ANYTHING OF YOUR LIFE.”

(Note: Real teacher’s chest was not that nice.)

The reason he said I would never make anything of my life was:

“NOBODY WILL EVER TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY WITH THAT VOICE. YOU WILL NEVER GET A JOB. YOU PROBABLY WON’T EVEN GET INTO COLLEGE.” 

This is because I slurred my s’s. And I have an all-around goofy voice. 

Not like the teacher or most humans.

But still my voice isn’t quite normal, but it is normal enough for me to be an emergency dispatcher, and sing, and talk to other humans, and nobody’s really made fun of it that much since college, which I totally got into EVERY DARN ONE I APPLIED TO by the way and they were kick-butt colleges. So YAY! 

The thing is that I believed that MEanie HEad Teacher. I believed that there was no hope for me to do anything that I wanted to do. 

And there are sooooooo many MEanie HEads out there (or people who have MEanie HEad moments – Trademark me). They might post an Amazon review. They might be grumping through your house or totally diss your outfit at school or steal your chair at lunch (NOTE: I HATE THAT!). They might not believe you have what it takes about writing, or about singing, or about being a good person, or about acing your SATs, or about finding true love, or whatever! 

Remember: They are being MEanie HEads.
 

You can do whatever the heck you want! You just make up your own internal cheerleader (I use the Muppet Grover) and find cool friends and you blow them off and believe in yourself. Right Grover? 

Grover: Any of you have issues with Mr. MEanie HEads and I, Grover, your adorable, furry Muppet friend will take them down for you. I am not a pacifist like Cawwie and I will totally jack them. Do not doubt the power of my fine Muppet self, or the power of YOU! See? I have a knife.

Hm. Note to Grover self: Blade should face away from Grover’s neck. 

Um. Okay. Thank you, Grover. 

Hey. If anyone wants to friend me on Facebook I am here

I am here on Twitter, by the way.

Friends are good.

WRITING NEWS

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! 

You can 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

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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. 

Not All Politicians are the Same

Okay.

As you know I have a big problem with stereotypes.

This isn’t just about stereotypes about gender or race or ability or sexual orientation or religion or class or age or ability or neurodiversion.

Yeah. Those are the hot button ones . . . the big ones that are easy to see and easy to describe.

But the ones that are bothering me right this exact second are the stereotypes people make about professions, particularly politicians.

Yes.  A lot of politicians are greedy.
Yes. A lot of politicians are horn dogs.
Yes. A lot of politicians have teeth that are just too shiny.

But not all of them do.

And to say that all of them do is a stereotype, just like saying all lawyers are wealthy (Assistant DAs in our county are NOT wealthy) or that all doctors are brilliant or that all nurses are good, kind souls.

It’s a stereotype. It’s a generalization.

This past weekend one of my favorite politicians Andrew Yang teared up a little bit after hearing a woman tell the story of how her four-year-old baby girl was accidentally shot and her baby’s twin brother witnessed it. It was at a town hall about gun violence. It was and is a devastating story. The woman (Stephanie) was asking about what Yang would do about unintentional shootings by kids.

You can read about it here.

After he hugged her, Andrew said that he was emotional because he was imagining that happening to his children. Andrew teared up because he had empathy.

Empathy is not weakness.

Empathy is being human at its best.

Feeling for other people doesn’t make you weak.

Feeling for other people motivates you into action, creates policies and pushes change.

“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

Brené Brown

You can’t connect if you don’t feel. You can’t lead without compassion or empathy or else your leadership is tyranny, inauthentic and more about you than your country.

At that meeting Andrew Yang answered Stefanie’s question saying, “If we can convince Americans that personalized guns are a good idea then again, if the child gets ahold of the gun then they can’t do anything with it, then it just becomes a very heavy, expensive prop.”

Yang also said, “If you say (to parents), ‘Hey we’ll upgrade your guns for free? ‘ When we can do that, like you can upgrade the guns for free … that would help make kids safer in our homes.”

How would parents say no to that, he wondered?

But his plan isn’t getting the attention. His tears are. Yang’s humanity breaks our ideas of what politicians should be. Politicians have become ‘other,’ unlike the rest of us. They don’t have emotions, right? They are the automatons that Yang is actually warning about – only he warns about automation in relation to the economy rather than warning us about becoming them, emotionless, ruthless, reading their cue cards and teleprompter and giving pat, conditioned responses.

Back in 1972, Edmund Muskie allegedly cried on the steps of the Manchester Union Leader (a newspaper) during a snow storm in New Hampshire while he was running for president. Muskie said he wasn’t crying and that it was melting snowflake on his face. The news said he cried.

My mom was there that day. She said she cried watching him outside the newspaper as he gave his speech.

Muskie was a frontrunner against Richard Nixon. The paper had slurred his wife as someone who liked her booze a bit too much. It also said she told too many jokes. Scandalous, I know. The paper also printed a piece planted by the Nixon administration that said that Muskie said an ethnic slur against French Canadians.

Whether or not Muskie cried for real while defending himself and his wife didn’t matter. The press latched hold again. Tears are not presidential, they said.

Muskie lost.

In 2008, when I ran for office the second time – the time I lost – the other party said that I was a lovely person but I felt too much and I cried too easily.

How could someone who cared so much be tough enough to battle for her constituents?

Let me tell you a secret: It’s those of us who care too much who battle the hardest.

Back to Stereotypes

Yes, I once ran for office. Twice actually. I won once. I lost once. I’ve never done it again, but that made me officially a politician. So if you put up a post that says all politicians are greedy or selfish or have shiny teeth you are making a generalization that includes me. 

The media likes to perpetuate this image. We hear the stories of the bad — the sex scandals, the corruption, the swamp, the money and favors from lobbyists. We don’t hear the stories of the good — the senator who goes out of her way to read to kids every Friday (no photo ops involved) or the ones who lose friends because they fight so hard for something they believe in.

So please stop generalizing about entire groups of people even politicians.

In Maine there are politicians in the state house who are barely scraping by, who earn $18,000 a year, who are serving because they are trying to make a difference and there are politicians who have millions, family legacies and very shiny teeth. 

They aren’t the same.

There are politicians who had dads who were truck drivers and politicians who had moms who were insurance CEOs. There are politicians who want to shove all special-ed kids in one school and politicians who find that morally reprehensible. 

They are politicians who are the daughters and sons of immigrants and those whose families have been here for centuries. There are politicians who are veterans, nurses, poets. There are politicians whose parents stood in the food line for cheese. There are politicians who have never spent the night in the woods. There are politicians who are gay, straight, female, male, asexual, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, atheist, agnostic.

They aren’t the same.

There are politicians who struggle hard to help. There are politicians who struggle hard to make a little extra cash on the side.

They aren’t the same. 

But here’s the other thing. Should it really be news that a presidential candidate has emotions? Shouldn’t we care about policies and ideas and skill-sets?

Shouldn’t we want our leaders to be human? Strong enough to have empathy? Strong enough to think beyond themselves?

A tiny moment of connection from a presidential candidate should be the norm. It should be the norm for all of us.

The Podcast

WRITING NEWS

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! 

You can 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

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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. 


Actions Create Who You Are

Jean-Paul Satre believed that people are the only objects that create who they are by their actions. A plant is a plant. It doesn’t choose to be a lilac. If he’s poison ivy, he’s poison ivy.

But a person becomes a truck driver because his actions prove him to be a truck driver. A person becomes a lounge singer because he’s singing in a lounge.

It’s all about the actions.

This is something I need to remember while I’m writing, especially when I’m writing middle grade for some reason. Our characters become something by their actions. 

Harry Potter becomes a hero because he does heroic stuff, not because he tells ushe does heroic stuff, or because he wants to doheroic stuff. We believe he’s a hero because we read his actions of being a hero.

Life is like this, too. A person becomes an artist by creating art. A person becomes a hero by doing something heroic, not by claiming to do something heroic or thinking about it. A person embodies the traits of their office, position or religion by actually embodying those traits, not just talking about it. 

In life like in writing, it’s about showing not telling. It’s about actions not lip-service. 

Okay. I’m going to go revise now.

WRITING NEWS

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! 

You can 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

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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. 

Author versus Mushrooms

As you know, I am a woman of obsessions.

I am obsessed with mushrooms. Like I legit love them.

I am obsessed with children’s book writing world and lately I’ve become obsessed about my time in a house in Ellsworth, Maine where one of these obsessions was growing in the wood trim outside my shower IN MY OLD HOUSE. 

I repeat: IN MY OLD HOUSE!

Spoiler:

It was not the children’s book writing world that was growing in the wood trim. It was mushrooms.

How wrong was that? 

Yes, I know I am a writer. I know I have some issues with doing certain things, but I swear to Stephen Colbert and all things holy that I did actually clean my bathroom.

Law enforcement officials, please note that I also vow that I awas not growing magic mushrooms for any illegal drug purposes.

Do you know what this meant? It meant that the mushrooms are there for some evil, nefarious purpose. 

It also meant that it was time for a – 

THREAT DOWN FOR CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITERS:

It’s hard to be a children’s writer. And it isn’t just book banners, angry reviewers who don’t like comma splices, or paper cuts we have to worry about, folks. Our very existence is being threatened. Our happy homes are being infiltrated. It’s a dangerous world out there. 

#1 Threat. 

Mushrooms.

We think they are cute. We think Smurfs live under their polka-dotted roof tops, but no … 

Really they are hanging out in our bathrooms waiting to strike, waiting to tell the world: LOOK AN ABSENT MINDED AUTHOR LIVES HERE AND SHE HAS NO CLEANING SKILLS! 

They are directly related to

# 2 Threat.

Spores.

Because let’s face it, mushrooms are releasing these babies possibly causing hallucinations. We could be breathing them in. They could be the true reason behind Green Eggs and Ham, behind Knuffle Bunny, behind my sudden allergy to laptop computers. And they could also be the reason for …

#3 Threat. 

Disembodied Voices in the Night. 

Every night this week, I’ve heard a woman’s voice. 

It’s said things like: Hufflepuffs.

Or maybe it was: Huff and puff. 

I’m not sure. But it’s waking me up and creeping me out. 

#4 Threat. 

Other children’s authors. 

Who other than other authors have obviously fed lines to the disembodied voice of the night. J.K. Rowling I’m talking to you! What am I going to hear next ? 

Can I ever sleep again? Soon I’ll be seeing Lisa Yee’s giant Peep floating across the room.

Enough is enough guys! Do you hear me? Enough is enough!

5. Mosquitos 

Colbert used to have a bear that was his big threat, but for me, it’s got to be the mosquitos behind this whole threat down. 

I’m covered in welts. 

I’m obsessing about past mushroom-home incidents. 

I’m actually blogging about it all.

Could someone just come over and sedate me now? Please…? That way I don’t have to work on this revision. 

WRITING NEWS

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! 

You can 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

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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.