Making Bad Guys in Writing and Life – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

Lots of us have bad people in our writing and our lives. These antagonists run the gamut from people who make us scream at their Facebook posts of Fakeness to actually physically hurting us and our community.

But one of the biggest questions a lot of new writers have is this:

DO I NEED A BAD GUY?

Yes.

But your bad guy can be yourself? Like in our random thoughts, Carrie is often showing that she is her own worst enemy. Watching tv gives her anxiety, but she almost always watches tv at night for a couple of hours.

When it comes to life or writing stories, this can help you figure out what the antagonist is.

HERE ARE THE STEPS:

  1. Figure out what your goal or your main character’s goal is.
  2. The bad person is whatever stands in the way of your character (or you) achieving your goal.

So, in life Carrie is her own antagonist because her goal is to not feel anxious at night, yet she still watches television for an hour or two. That’s an example of an inner-antagonist or bad guy.

Also in life, when Carrie doesn’t let Shaun watch American Pickers and makes him watch Pen15? She’s Shaun’s external bad guy, keeping him from his goal to chill with those picker guys.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Every story needs conflict. Sometimes th”at conflict and opposing force (what’s keeping your character from their goal) comes from the character themself.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

“Dude. Us dogs do not need antagonists. We go for our wants. Over and over again,” says Sparty.



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.

Bar Harbor Maine
Bar Harbor Maine – Next to our house, actually





WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July 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 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?

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HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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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. 

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HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

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TIME STOPPERS!

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Image

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Dogs Are Smarter Than People – BOOK RELEASE DAY!

Authors! It’s the day you long for! Book RELEASE DAY!

What does that mean? It’s the day that your book is officially on the shelves or downloadable and stuff.

It is the day that you’ve been working towards and dying to happen. And sometimes what seems like a big deal to you? Isn’t as big a deal with the rest of the world. I know, right? Silly rest of the world.

So, here are some tips on how to deal with that.

Try not to freak out that nobody will notice your book birthday since everyone in your family either doesn’t care or is dead. Or because despite the fact that you share all your friends’ business and nonprofit stuff all the time, nobody shares yours.

Try not to check your Amazon rankings.

Here are things to do to make your day better:

Celebrate. This means party in some way. It can be big and glorious or tiny and just involve hugging a tree. Any way is a good way.

Mark the occasion: Some authors get tattoos, have parties, eat cake, drink tequila or whole milk. Some authors buy expensive jewelry.

Tell everyone you know somehow. Social media. Emails. Carrier pigeons? It’s all good.

Writing Tip of the Pod: Celebrate your success. You deserve it.

Dog Tip for Life: Celebrate a book release the way you celebrate finding a new tree to urinate on. (I apologize. Shaun was in charge of this part this week).

 

Shout out to Ryan Anderson!

Ryan’s track is available to this podcast thanks to his generosity and the Creative Commons. It is probably the best part of the episode, honestly.

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. The official release date is August 7! TODAY! 

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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.

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?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. 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.

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

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

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Dogs Are Smarter Than People – BOOK RELEASE DAY!

 
 

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Writing Advice – Down on My Shins, Baby

Writing advice.

Everyone has it even if it’s as simple as, “Don’t listen to advice.”

But there is no one way to write the same way there’s no one way to live.

On my trip to the Indigo/Chapters Teen Choice Awards awhile ago, the first leg of my trip ends in the flight from Bangor to Philadelphia. I’m really psyched because:

1. I like Philadelphia even if it is just the airport.
2. I was in the first row of the plane so I was like the third one off. SCORE! That never happens.
3. I am easily psyched.

 

This t-shirt would be appropriate for me to wear all the time. You know, if I wore this kind of t-shirt.

It turns out that I have to get to another terminal in order to catch my next flight to Toronto. To get there you have to walk through one terminal and go to a place where it says SHUTTLE TO TERMINAL F.  To get to this magical shuttle place you have to go down an escalator. This should be nice and easy, except the space at the bottom of the escalator is not big enough to hold the bajillion people who want to go on the shuttle, so everyone has to turn immediately right and form a line that runs parallel to the escalator. This also should be easy, right? We are smart people who fly on airplanes, forming a line is easy-peasey.

But, apparently not all of us:


1. Like to form lines.
2. Understand how to form lines.
3. Like to follow the directions of the men yelling, “Go to the right! Form a line, people! Go to the right!”

When I come down the escalator there’s a flight attendant behind me and I figure that:


1. She is in a hurry.
2. She is a bit frustrated by people who fail to form lines.
3. She is moving on flight-attendant warp speed.

 

So, when I step off the escalator, she steps off right behind me. I wait for a second to see if the man in front of me understands the whole MOVE TO THE RIGHT AND FORM A LINE THING.

He doesn’t.

Flight attendant lady wants none of this, so she scoots around me, but when she does her luggage (on rollers) hits the back of both my knees — one, two — in this perfect way that makes me fall right down to the floor on my shins, so it looks like I am praying to the shuttle gods or something. Not that there are shuttle gods, obviously.

So you must picture me on the floor surrounded by people who can not form a line to the right.

And you must picture all those people staring at me with their mouths wide open.

And you must picture me laughing hysterically because (seriously) how funny is it that I got taken down by a flight attendant’s luggage.

And you must picture everyone thinking I’m a weirdo.

And then I bounce right back up and got in line, because that’s the way this writer rolls. 😉

Is there a point to this story?

Yes and no.

Every story we create out of our lives (or out of fiction) has underlying truths inside of it. I could have chosen to cry and sue the flight attendant, which would have made me wealthier, probably. I could have chosen not to tell this story about me falling down, which would make me seem cooler, probably.

Writing experts, blog experts, life experts, marketing experts, expert experts would probably have told me that my vulnerable story of darkness isn’t going to sell any books, which is what I’m supposed to do because it’s how I earn my living and buy dog food. They’d tell me to write not quite so conversationally. They’d tell me to make sure my SEO has words like ‘tips and hints’ in it to drive blog traffic.

But here’s the thing? For me, I’m going to form a line when I’m supposed to if it’s helping the greater good. And I’m usually going to laugh if I get knocked down because it’s better than crying – usually.

And I am going to explore the wonderings and the questions that are inside of me about life and writing and people’s love and people’s cruelty, their selfishness and selflessness in every way that I know how. And I am going to find meaning in little things and big things.

 

My only writing advice, my truest writing advice is this:

Expect that you are going to be stupid sometimes.

Expect that you will fall.

Expect that writing a story, just like a life, is a big adventure that you can’t always control.

Our job as humans and as writers isn’t to dictate belief sets to other people, but to give them possibilities, questions to bounce off of and explore, moments of ‘huh’ and ‘what ifs,’ seconds of laughter and failure and poignancy that they can use as a launch pad for their own explorations.

What are your ‘huh’ moments? When do you think, ‘what if?’

Writing News

I’m super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

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

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 

“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 buy 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.

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.

My Post Copy-2

 

 

Writing Heroes Who Don’t Suck

Who do you root for?

In your own life, this question is easy. We root for ourselves. A lot of the time we root for our friends, our family. We almost always root for the dog. I mean, even in Cujo, the horror-novel by Stephen King where the dog is killing everyone? A lot of us still root for the dog.

But when we write books?

We want to root for the hero. The hero is who we like. The hero is who we admire.

Sometimes though, that’s sort of hard.

There are moments in Harry Potter where we’re rooting for Hermione more than Harry because Harry’s being a butt face, stubborn, sulky and insolent.

But Harry’s a better hero because of that. We can relate to him and find hope in our own hero potential because he is imperfect. If imperfect people can be heroes, so can we.

So can we.

Here’s the truth.

Heroes aren’t perfect. Not in real life. Not in books. And a lot of the time people don’t identify with heroes that are too perfect like Captain America or Superman because their goodness seems so impossible. They’ll prefer Iron Man or Batman because they are flawed and moody or temperamental and snarky. It’s easier to relate to that lack of perfection.

This is not true for Carrie obviously. She’s all Cap all the time because she can relate to being imperfect because of her own self righteousness and savior complexes more than being imperfect because she’s moody, sulky snark. It’s kind of a problem, honestly.

But back to the point. Your hero probably shouldn’t be perfect. Perfection is kind of annoying.

How Do You Write a  Hero Who Isn’t Typical or Basically Doesn’t Suck?

The same way you write everyone else.

  1. Listen to people other than yourself, how they talk, how they think. Use your empathy to understand their character and then steal some of those traits and motivations for your own hero.
  2. Tweak the trope. Sure you have archetypes of messiahs/warriors/matriarchs/mystics, but go beyond the trope when you’re making your hero. She might be like Xena the Warrior Princess, but she can have a goofy Whose That Girl side like Jess. Give your ‘mystic’ trope a ‘matriarch’ profession like a lawyer or judge.
  3. Think about your own heroes – the ones in real life. What do they do that isn’t all that heroic? Talk with their mouth full? Wipe their boogers on the edge of the seat of the car? Use that.

Dog Tip For Life 

When you let go of your need to be the perfect puppy all the time, you get to chill out a little bit more. Chilling out is good for your heart.

Writing Tip of the Cast

We all want to be perfect. We aren’t. Our heroes shouldn’t be either.

WRITING NEWS

Carrie’s back from Book Expo America and super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

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.

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

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.

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of Carrie’s 16-or-so books, check out her 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

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.

xo

Shaun and Carrie, Sparty, Gabby and Marsie (the honorary cat-dog)

Dogs are Smarter Than People the podcast
Gabby is not a perfect dog. We love her any way.

Writing Heroes Who Don’t Suck

 
 

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Cooking With A Writer – Dude, There’s a Burrito in my Spaghetti Squash

I convinced The Man and The Dogs to let me try another vegetarian recipe.

“It’s for the blog,” I said.

“Does the blog earn us any money?” The Man asked.

“Does this vegetarian recipe have bacon bits?” The Dogs asked. “Bacon bits do not count as meat.

“No,” I said. “And no. And yes… chopping meat into tiny bites and bits does not take away the qualities of meat.”

The Dogs decided to sleep through the recipe, which I understand. They’d had a hard day of barking at UPS drivers and squirrels, drooling on windows, and longing for meat products.

The Man did not sleep through the cooking.  He had questions, sort of like a copy editor or something… So many questions about every little detail.

“Does this mean you’re finally going to get rid of the gigantic spaghetti squash that’s been in our bread box for months?’ The Man asked. “Because then I am good with this recipe as long as we can go get pizza later.”

I have a lot to put up with here. Obviously.

carriejonesbooks.blog

This bad boy recipe is really loosely adapted from a much grander recipe from Cookie and Kate. You should check them out and applaud the beauty that is their website.

For background if you are new to this part of my blog:

Everyone always talks about writing being like cooking.

Clarification: By everyone, I mean writers. Writers like to talk about themselves.

Anyways, there are a million blogs about how writing is like cooking, but not really anything about cooking like a writer. So, our new Thursday segment is now COOKING LIKE A WRITER.

https://carriejonesbooks.blog

What does this mean?

It means I’m going to share one recipe with you each Thursday and it’s not going to be shiny and pretty and slick. It’s going to be real, people, because writers of kidlit are authentic AF.

Here is your Thursday recipe. The hardest part is cutting the damn squash, honestly. It was so hard! I had to get help.

Burrito Bowl inside a Spaghetti Squash! Say What the What?

Writers! YOU CAN DO THIS! You can make a thought into a story. Of course you can make a squash into a burrito! 

Also, the calories are on the upper end of the scale because I’m imagining you’re using a lot of toppings because writers are like that if we have other jobs. If you don’t have another job, you probably won’t use cheese, right? Because cheese is expensive! And maybe not as many beans? Then your count is going to be in the 250 range. 

THESE ARE THE ROASTED SQUASH INGREDIENTS – ACT ONE

  • 2 squash – medium, take out its innards and seedy things.
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt – dash
  • pepper – a few dashes

THESE ARE THE SLAW INGREDIENTS – ACT TWO

  • 1 package cole slaw mexican salad mix OR two cups of green cabbage shredded
  • 1 can black beans, drain it because it's icky if you don't
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion – all parts white and green, we love all parts here
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 3 TBSP lime juice

THESE ARE THE SALSA SAUCE INGREDIENTS – ACT THREE

  • 3/4 cup salsa verde
  • 1 avocado – make it ripe, dice it up
  • 1 TBSP lime juice – yes, again with the lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt – yes, again with the salt
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, you've got it, again with the cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic

Random garnishes if you are into that – cheese, more cilantro because we're trying to increase the livelihood of those who produce cilantro, I guess?

    1. I am so sorry. But you have to cut the squash in half. I know! I know! This is hard. This requires muscles. Writers’ only muscles are in our fingers. This is not enough to chop spaghetti squash in half. 

    2. Recruit help to cut the squash in half. This is like a beta reader. It’s okay for a writer/cook to have back-up. Just make sure they are strong. 

    3. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit because that’s important. You can do this. This just requires finger muscles to set the degrees. You’ve got this, writer! 

    4. Spread the olive oil on the squash. Pretend it is the tears that have coalesced after rejection letters. Look at you! You’re tears are making something delicious. 

      Add salt and pepper because why not, honestly? 

    5. Flip the squash over so that the inside parts are now down against the baking sheet. Think about how this is like your own inside parts, hidden inside your story. This is you, this squash! This is your heart and soul hidden from the reader but turning into something beautiful. 

    6. Put the pan in the oven! THIS IS IMPORTANT! Use those writing muscles and eat the time for 40 minutes, but it might take an hour. Squash like stories don’t really follow perfect schedules and some take a little longer. It’s done when a fork can pierce through the flesh.

    7. DO NOT MAKE THE SQUASH YOUR OBJECTIVE CORRELATIVE! I promise. It is not you. It is not your writer soul. You do not need to be pierced easily with a fork. You must remain intact. Take a moment to breathe. You’ve got this. 

    8. Okay. Are you okay? Make sure you’re okay. Don’t think about rejections or bad reviews. Take the slaw mix. Add black beans, the red pepper, the cilantro, the lime juice, the olive oil, the salt, the tears. Toss it around. Let it marinate. This is just like writing a book, isn’t it? Leave it alone for a bit. Do not check it out. It’s good. It’s parts are mixing up and complimenting each other like plot and setting and action and voice and dialogue. Actually, maybe walk away from the kitchen and post an Instagram poem about squash and flesh and forks and marinating slaw. 

    9. Okay. It’s salsa time! Do you feel happier? Did you write a poem? Did anyone like it? Find a blender. Borrow a blender if you don’t have one. It’s like borrowing a plot – totally not a big deal. Cough. Okay. So in the blender put the avocado, the salsa verde, the cilantro and lime juice. Add the garlic because this is not a YA novel set in Seattle. No sparkly vampires here, baby. 

    10. Writer. Um… I forgot to tell you to plug in the blender. Put the top on. Press BLEND. Watch things blend. Blend it till smooth. Marvel at how all these random bits come together to make something yummy. These bits are like your thoughts! Wow…. That’s deep! 

    11. Dude. You are amazing. You have made three parts of something! IT IS LIKE THE OLD BORING THREE-ACT STRUCTURE OF A STORY! Whoah… Mind blown. Do a happy dance. You’re amazing.

    12. Assemble it! Fluff the squash innards up. Put slaw into the hollowed out squash places. Put the salsa verde mix on top. Dang. Look at that. Garnish if you want. Eat your masterpiece! You did this, writer! You! 

    https://carriejonesbooks.blog Recipes with a Writer. Cooking With a Writer

    Man’s Verdict: That was surprisingly good actually and hearty. Probably because like you know the beans and the spaghetti squash has some density to it. The slaw is like a binder. Through some hot sauce in there.

    Dog’s Verdict: Why do you hate us?

    Carrie’s Verdict: This was pretty yummy, but cutting a spaghetti squash is so super hard. There must be an easier way to do that. Wait! I should check the internet for ways to do that.

    Squash cutting
    Squash cutting is serious, people

    The ways are here, thanks to Trial and Eater.

    Also, my middle grade fantasy series, TIME STOPPERS, is totally out there in the world thanks to the wonderful people at Bloomsbury.  It’s about two kids finding love and acceptance and friendship even though their lives have been super horrible. One of them was raised by trolls pretending to be people. Apparently, there are a lot of trolls out there.

    Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
    Look, they made a pull quote!

    It’s sort of Harry Potter crossed with Percy Jackson crossed with Inkheart, but set in Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor, Maine and it’s full of magic and adventure, but mostly it’s full of friendship. Because friends? Friends matter.

    To find out more about it, you can go here. I hope you all have an amazing day and eat yummy food and nobody torments you too much. Watch out for trolls.

     

     

    Monday Motivation By Marsie, New Year’s Edition

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    I am not the kind of person who likes to look back at the year or look forward at the new year.

    I’m not sure why that is.

    It’s probably because I’m really good at worst-case scenarios and not so awesome at best-case scenarios.

     

    Yesterday, the last day of 2017 (the no-good, terrible year), I was in the grocery store line and the cashier said something nice about me making a good meal for my man and how cute we are together and then she said, “You’re best buddies. Best buddies forever. Me and my… ” Her voice caught on grief. “We were like that.”

    And my heart broke right there.

    And I said, “C–, your breaking my heart and you’re working and I can’t get over there on the other side of the belt and hug you because you’re working.”

    The bagger girl looked away. I don’t think she’s good with emotion.

    But C– just smiled at me and said, “It’s okay. It’s okay. I have a new man in my life and he’s so sweet to me and he showed up just when I needed him and my J–, I think he sent him to me.”

    Her J — is her long-time, forever buddy, her husband who died.

    So, I basically emoted all over the place while she rung up my crackers and I was like, “C–! You are killing me. I’m crying because I’m sad. I’m crying because I’m happy for you. I’m crying because you’re so beautiful. And this is all… it’s all so… It’s poignant.”

    She laughed.

    The bagger kept looking away.

    And when I walked out of the grocery store, this person I don’t know, he touched my elbow to make me stop my mad-fast hustle to the car. It was -2 out. It was cold.

    The guy who was all bundled up and wearing some Carhartt’s said, “You know. When you have a heart as open as yours, it’s going to hurt sometimes.”

    And I said, brilliantly, “Oh.”

    “It’s worth it,” he said. “Do good out there, Carrie. Do good.”

    I was a little freaked out, but I thanked him, got to my car and sat there and just stared at this parking lot and the people rushing through the cold, and the grayness that seems to sometimes overwhelm everything during winter and my heart got so full that I started emoting everywhere again because that random Carhartt-wearing man took time out of his day to talk to me. He stopped in the cold to talk to me.

    This guy knew my name somehow, but bigger than that? This guy knows about hearts.

    So, here’s the thing – there are gifts out there (big gifts and little ones) and they can come from the weirdest places. They’re connections. They’re motivations. They are these tiny times where you get to see inside other people’s minds and hearts. Savor them this year. Try to dwell on those good things as much as we all dwell on the bad. And let both the good and the bad inspire you to make a difference in your own life and maybe even other people’s lives (big ways and little ways).

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    Thank you all for everything you’ve done for me this year. You’ve listened to me about my Scotty Dog’s death, my daughter’s transition from Harvard graduate to the U.S. Army Second Lt..  You’ve celebrated with me about book stuff and you’ve mourned with me when Don died. You haven’t mocked me too hard because Grover (the muppet) is my internal cheerleader and John Wayne (dead cowboy movie star) is my internal editor. Some of you have bought my books. On social media, so many of you have been so kind over and over. And you haven’t unsubscribed to my newsletter. That’s such a big deal to me.

    Thank you.

    I really appreciate how kind and giving you’ve all been and if I write any more I’ll start crying. And there’s no random stranger guy here to make me feel better.

    Darn.

    Happy 2018! Make it yours! Make it ours. Let’s support each other all year long. It’s community that builds strength. Let’s be one together.

    Random Writing Stuff

    Here are the books I have coming out this year.

    The Spy Who Played Baseball

    The Spy Who Played Baseball is a nonfiction picture book.

    Timestoppers3_005

    Escape From the Badlands is the last book in the Time Stoppers series.

    And don’t forget about the awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!

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    Rescuing People and the Writing Barn Scholarship

    My dog Scotty had the unique ability called UNLOCKING THE DOOR WITH HIS MOUTH AND THEN TURNING THE KNOB OF THE DOOR AND THEN PUSHING IT OPEN SO HE CAN FROLIC OUTSIDE.

    In the dog world this made him a superhero.

    But, it could be occasionally unnerving to his human (Hint: His human is me) in that I got all stressed out and frazzled about book edits and would suddenly hear him barking…. FROM OUTSIDE! Which is what happened one December.

    Dogs here in Maine aren’t supposed to randomly roam around outside, plus it was hunting season, plus Scotty thought one neighbor of ours was the antichrist and he thought the only way to stop this apocalypse involved him running in front of her Toyota truck and barking at her.

    So, I would worry about him.

    He thought my worrying about him was silly.  He thought his job was to worry about me. He was wrong.

    Anyway, this one December day, a couple of years ago, I heard him do the end-the-apocalypse bark, and I threw on some ballet flats and jumped in the MINI, zipped up my driveway hill and there was Scotty barking and protecting the driveway from a car that was not the Toyota. It was a car that had fallen into a ditch and there was a man trying to shovel the car out.

    I jumped out of my MINI, put Scotty in the car and said, “Can I help?”

    The man was Joe, an older guy who has some major health issues and lived down the street. He was like, “Oh yeah.”

    A white-haired lady inside the car looked at me and said, “Please.”

    It was a front-wheel drive car. It had no super cool, studded tires like the MINI. And the driver had tried to get up the snow-covered monster hill that is my road and the car then slid all the way down. Her car was tilted at this funky angle.

    It was pretty bad.

    Joe and I got behind it and pushed. We pushed some more. My ballet flat went in the snow. I fell down. Joe fell down. The car didn’t move. We tried again. We tried again. And again. I lost feeling in my butt because it was so cold. And yeah,  I didn’t put a jacket on or anything and my hair was wet from  the shower.

    This whole time that Joe and I were fighting against the wicked machine that was Mrs. Austen’s unbudging car, I was thinking about helping people and books and writing and even politics because let’s face it… you get bored pushing cars that don’t move. It’s sort of like a story that refuses to be revised well.

    What I thought…

    So a lot of the time when people start to criticize books they get really… um… agitated… if they think the female character gets rescued too much.  And people are sort of SUPER sensitized to it so much that they flip out if anyone helps out the female character ever.

    And I get that.
    I get that female readers need to know that they can rescue themselves, that they don’t need a boy to do it, and that if girls think that then it makes them dependent. I mean, I think about that all the time when I wrote the NEED books. And Zara (my main character) thought about that all the time. I thought about it when I wrote FLYING and TIME STOPPERS and pretty much everything.

    But it also makes me worried. Because the truth is that we all need rescuing constantly. We all need help. Boys need help. Girls need help. Authors who are neurotic about their next book coming out need help. And I want a balance in books and in movies. I want different genders and ages to help each other, to respect help, to be able to receive help. It’s about balance and intention.

    And the thing is that in real life? You just do it. You just help (hopefully, unless you’re in a reality show or something and think it’s all about you). I wasn’t about to ignore that older woman in her car because she was:
    1. Older
    2. Female

    I didn’t think, “Hm…. Perhaps, I shouldn’t help her because she should get that car out of the ditch all by herself even though she does have a cane and a fake hip that hasn’t fully healed yet. If I help her I am actually oppressing her.”

    And Joe who almost died last year from a heart issue didn’t think that either, I bet.

    So, I guess that’s my point. Go help somebody today! And thank somebody who has helped you.

    Here are my thank you’s:

    Thank you to everyone who has rescued me from writer insecurity this year, who have saved me from sad when Scotty died, when Emily went away. Thank you to the people who have made me laugh. Thank you to the people who reminded me that there are people of hope, people who dream, people who are good. You have totally been my rescuers in a year that should be struck from the canon of years and I owe you! YAY YOU!!! xoxxo

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    Writing Barn Class

    There is an awesome scholarship being offered at the Writing Barn for Write! Submit! Support! an awesome online class that I’m teaching in 2018. The class is for novelists of all genres, but the scholarship is for middle grade authors. Also, the deadline to sign up is super soon. SO SIGN UP! Give yourself a present for the new year!

    DETAILS ABOUT THE AWESOME SCHOLARSHIP

    Katherine Applegate, Newbery winning and NYT bestselling author, and good friend of The Writing Barn has created the Mary Carolyn Davies/Wishtree MG Write. Submit. Support. Scholarship to be awarded to:

     

    • either (1) MG writer for the full amount of a Write. Submit. Support. registration ($1800)

    OR

    • to be shared by (2) MG writers for half the amount of a Write. Submit. Support. registration ($900)

     

    This scholarship honors poet, novelist and playwright Mary Carolyn Davies.

    Writing Wisdom Wednesday

    So, I’ve been reading a lot about marketing and social media lately, mostly because of my volunteer position at Rotary International, where I’m the public image coordinator for Eastern Canada and a bunch of the Northeast United States.

    And it made me think about how much I absolutely fail as a writer and marketer.

    Seriously.

    I am no John Green.

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    Me = Not John Green

    Anyways, I found this old interview with Cynsations, a blog run by the incredible Cynthia Leitich Smith where she asked me:

    How do you balance your life as a writer with the responsibilities (speaking, promotion, etc.) of being an author?

    It’s horrible. I grew up in New England and we are the kind of people who gasp and hold up garlic cloves and a cross when we hear the words, “self promotion.” I think M.T. Anderson (author interview) said something about that in an interview once, and it really resonated with me because it’s so ridiculously true.

    So, I joined the Class of 2k7, a cross-publishers marketing group of debut authors, because I figured I could at least tell myself that I was promoting other people as well as myself. That made it a more altruistic thing, but it also takes a lot of time because I signed up for too many committees. Note to all other debut authors and my fifth-grade writing self: Sign up for only one committee.

    Most of my time is still spent writing. The problem isn’t necessarily balancing the other aspects of the business in terms of time spent, but more keeping my mind from obsessively worrying about the other aspects of the business (the sales, the reviews, the promotion) so much that it affects my ability to write.

    I still think this way. A lot of writers LOVE marketing. It makes me nervous. I can sing out the awesome stories of other people all day long? But when it comes to promoting myself or my own book? I shudder. I’m trying to be better about that but even right now, I’m all…. should I put in my website link? There I did it. (Seriously, I stared at it for five minutes).

    Should I say, “Hey, there’s all this talk in the New York Times about ufos and the government investigating it and that’s totally what my book FLYING is about?”

    It’s weird how hard this is.

    But in happier writer news, look what I got at a holiday party this weekend. HANDERPANTS!!!

    Yes… yes… I do write in them now.  Many thanks to the awesome Keri Hayes for the present and the photo.

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    In that same interview, Cyn also asked: If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were beginning writer, what advice would you offer?

    Current Carrie: Hey! You! Writing in that notebook.

    Fifth-grade Carrie: Ew! Am I really going to look like that? Where are my bangs?

    Current Carrie: At least your glasses are gone.

    Fifth-grade Carrie: Cool.

    Current Carrie: Okay, listen. I have writing advice. You know how you’re having Captain James T. Kirk fall in love with your banged hair, glasses-wearing heroine?

    Fifth-grade Carrie: Yeah.

    Current Carrie: And how Mr. Spock is also in love with same heroine…

    Fifth-grade Carrie: Uh-huh.

    Current Carrie: And how the Dr. McCoy guy is in love with her too?

    Fifth-grade Carrie: What’s your point?

    Current Carrie: It’s not all that realistic, sweetie.

    Fifth-grade Carrie: It isn’t?

    Current Carrie: No, honey. I hate to break it to you. It’s just not. My writing advice to you is that not everyone can be in love with your heroine, unless you’re Laurel Hamilton and your heroine has the ardeur or something.

    I still think that’s solid.