The Best Writers Care

I was just visiting an awesome school in Greensboro, North Carolina talking about my Moe Berg picture book biography and I was telling the kids about how to show not tell emotion and I had an epiphany right after a kid asked if I was Italian because I spoke with my hands so much.

Spoiler Alert: I am a lot of things, but I am not Italian.

Anyways, I realized that the biggest writing tip I can give is to live unafraid in your words, live unafraid in your loves, live unafraid in your experiences.

Live the biggest, fullest life you can imagine because every person you meet, every thing you do will help you shape not only the stories and people you put in your books and fiction, but also in your lives.

So here is the thing. 

We are all human. 
We all suffer. 
We all make mistakes. 
We all do good things. 

And it feels, often, that we can never do enough. Or learn enough. Or get to touch other people’s stories.

I realized all this when we were delivering wheelchairs to this man, David Castellanos, and his family in Belize. One wheelchair helps. Raising money for a wheelchair helps. But there is still so much more to do. 

Part of that is hearing and truly listening to other people.

David had a stroke. He is 42. Social media isn’t tweeting and posting about him. He and his family are quietly living their stories, the happy ones and sad ones.

David’s wife asked me if I knew of a way to get more money for him to help with his medicine. I didn’t. There’s no nice easy way for them to get a GoFundMe. They already work hard and barely manage financiallyAfter . I asked the local Rotarian in charge if he could help. He was not helpful. 

After we fitted David and his wheelchair, Mrs. Castellanos stood at the gate to their home and watched us go. She watched the truck full of wheelchairs go. She watched the first van go. Then it was our van.

We couldn’t just go.

I couldn’t handle it. Shaun jumped out of our van and gave her some money. Yes, I know it’s not enough still to help with his medicine and yes, I know it’s not a long-term solution.

What I’d Like

I would like people to live in a world where they can be sick and not feel like they are draining their family’s income and future. Belize. The United States. Everywhere.

I would like people to live in a world where a wheelchair isn’t a verdict, where you can lift out of poverty even when you are in pain.

That hopelessness is here, too, in Maine, in the United States. We should be able to do better than this. And I am lucky to see this, to witness it, to even witness my own helplessness, because it makes my own story bigger and richer.

David matters. You matter. I matter. Our stories matter. Our lives matter and we all deserve a chance to live them as fully as we possibly can.

When you write your life, when you tell your stories, remember that we are all surviving and loving and struggling. Put that heart in there, make your feelings, your wants and your emotions resonate. The world needs to hear stories – all stories – and their tiny pinpricks of hope and truth and reality that peek out even when embedded in fiction.

The best writers care about more than their own success or follower-counts. Every tweet isn’t about how awesome they are. Every moment in their life isn’t just about them. The ability to have empathy, to see, to observe and care about things? That makes a difference and you read that difference on every single line of every page. The magic of caring comes through and makes your story resonate with truth.

Rotary

Rotary allows me to meet Rotarians in other countries. It allows me to meet David. It allows me to take action to make change in my community and in the global community. Thanks to Rotary, I get to hear stories that are different than mine and like mine all at once. That’s the best kind of gift.

If you’d like to learn more about Rotary, check it out here or message me and/or comment.


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 launched my Patreon site where I’m 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. Come hang out with me! Get cool things!

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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. Our latest episode is below. It’s also on YouTube here.

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Mushy Dialogue Sucks

There. I said it.

Mushy dialogue sucks. It’s nothing space in your story and sometimes it’s nothing space in your life. You know what I’m talking about, right? You meet some cool human at a coffee house and talk to them and it goes like this:

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“How’s it shaking?”

“It’s shaking well, thank you.”

“Yeah. Weather is nice, right?”

“It’s quite sunny.”

“Cool.”

“Yes, it’s lovely.”

Random bad dialogue that I just made up

One of my writers in the Writing Barn class that I’m teaching for the next six months, directed me to a blog post about the Five Biggest Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them and one of those mistakes according to James Scott Bell is marshmallow dialogue.

Bell believes that dialogue is one of the best ways to make a story better or make it absolute trash. He advocates fast-paced dialogue full of tension. Blah dialogue he says is ‘puffy,’ and ‘overly sweet,’ and everyone sounds the same no matter who is speaking.

Bell kindly gives hints about how to make characters sound different from one another.

Those include:

  • Making documents written solely in one character’s voice.
  • Keep working on it until every character sounds different and you can distinguish them at a glance (I added that)
  • Make sure there is tension going on. What do people want? Why are they talking? Do they want the same thing?
  • Make your dialogue simpler. Get rid of extra words. You can cut and copy dialogue into another document and then hack away at it.

He uses the following example of compressed dialogue.

“Mary, are you angry with me?” John asked.

“You’re damn straight I’m mad at you,” Mary said.

“But why? You’ve got absolutely no reason to be!”

“Oh but I do, I do. And you can see it in my face, can’t you?”

The alternative:

“You angry with me?” John asked.

“Damn straight,” Mary said.

“You got no reason to be!”

Mary felt her hands curling into fists.

Bell’s example

I’m annoying and I send my apologies to Mr. Bell, but that example is wonderful at compressing dialogue, but those people? They still sound the same to me. In the first example, they both sound like middle class people who are having a hard time expressing their feelings. In the second example, they sound like people who are expressing their feelings in exactly the same way and are probably are still the same social/economic/education background.

Look at what happens if you keep one character’s original lines and one character’s new lines.

“Mary, are you angry with me?” John asked.
“Damn straight,” Mary said.
“But why? You’ve got absolutely no reason to be!”
Mary’s hands curled into fists.

Or….

“You angry with me?” John asked.

“You’re damn straight I’m mad at you,” Mary said.

“But why? You have absolutely no reason to be?”


Mary’s hands curled into fists.

Revision

I’d argue that’s even better. For more about how language and dialogue changes with the speakers, check out our Dogs are Smarter than People podcast from last year. And good luck with your dialogue!

Links that go with the podcast (the important words are here and here.




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 and our bonus podcast below.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

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

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

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

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.

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FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

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“Least Threatening Woman in the World” Self perception and writing

I am the least threatening woman in the world.

When I sat down to write about something, that’s the sentence that flew off my fingertips:

I am the least threatening woman in the world. 

And then I thought about what it means.

I

That one is sort of obvious.

Least

the smallest extent

Threatening

There’s a lot of definitions for this one, but I think that the one my brain was going for is “causing someone to feel vulnerable or at risk”

In the world

Wicked hyperbole because I’m an author and we’re into hyperbole.

But seriously, I am the sort of woman that even the most insecure people don’t care if their spouse texts. This is essentially true in all things work and life related.

Or am I? My perception of myself is pretty unthreatening, but one of my friends recently told me I have no chill and I could totally throw-down. He meant it as a compliment. Another friend told me, “You are so super mellow and chill. What was he talking about?”

Different people perceive us in vastly different ways, but even how we perceive ourselves can be all over the place.

So, when I think, “I am the least threatening person in the world,” am I actually just falling into a writer stereotype of self-loathing? Am I really saying, “I’m ugly and boring and nobody is intimidated by me because I’m basically nothing?” Or is it something else?

And why do so many of us writers (and comics, and artists, and bankers, and humans) do this? When this negative self definition is obviously not a helpful tool.

Writers and Self Loathing

Back in 2015, the New York Times asked two writers on their thoughts about writers and self loathing. 

Thomas Mallon wrote, “The aggrieved writer’s immortal longings represent, finally, a loathing not of the self but of the human condition, a desire to thwart the tragic fact of death. Writing has always offered a particularly good means of doing that.”

I read that to a friend and he rolled his eyes. “You aren’t self-loathing. You’re self deprecating. There’s a big difference. You’re afraid to claim your success. I think it might be a woman thing or a New England thing or something.”

“Are you telling me that I’m afraid of being successful because I’m a woman? Or because I’m from New Hampshire?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Hm,” I said because honestly? That’s a pretty big assertion that takes a lot to unpack.

Or maybe the self deprecation is because of my New England-ness and me being a woman and told not to ‘toot my own horn’ because it’s “tacky.” But maybe it’s also a thinking thing. Writers think a lot. We think about humans and society and our place within it. We think about character growth and motivation and that means that we sometimes think a lot about our own selves.

Anna Holmes wrote in that same Times piece, “Although I don’t buy the idea that self-loathing is a requirement for writers — I know too many writers, particularly men, who hold themselves in perhaps higher esteem than they should — I do think that writing demands a certain amount of self-awareness, and that self-awareness and self-loathing can be two sides of the same coin.”

Being judgmental about who we are, knowing our own flaws and faults, it can be hard. It’s hard to face our lack of personal perfection – not just for writers, but for all of us. And while we often give our friends and family space for errors or ‘flaws’ or screw-ups and forgive and love them anyway? That’s not always so hard to do with ourselves. To be self aware means to know we are imperfect. But our imperfections aren’t the end of the world. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

Making Ourselves a Trope

And the thing is that when we write about writers? We are making ourselves a trope and often continuing that cycle of negativity. I remember a couple of years ago when I had a five-second meltdown about how I could never watch another movie or television show about a writer.

“It makes me depressed,” I sputtered. “They are all just — they are either super wealthy or alcoholics or creepy.”

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has thought this. In 2017, Ben Blatt published a survey of some literature called “Writers are Self-Loathing: 50 Writers on Writers, In Fiction.”

Okay. It’s fiction, not movies, but it’s all about our culture and how we define ourselves.

Blatt wrote, “Writers don’t have the best reputation and they have no one to blame but themselves. Instead of writing stories where writers are attractive, heroic, and strong, they describe the writers within their own works as eccentric, depressed, reclusive, broke, and egotistical.”

Blatt gives example after example of writers putting writers down, defining them in not a very positive light.

Here are some excerpts that I took from his Signature article.

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I’m going to beg the rest of you out there, don’t define yourself as miserable, as nothing, as non-threatening, as invisible. Don’t believe yourself to be the trope. And maybe think about why that trope is there? Negative self awareness and self loathing and self deprecation. It’s like an evil trinity that holds us back, keeps us down. We don’t need it.

Writing News

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.

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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!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Book Baby I Never Thought Would Get Published and the Human Baby I Never Thought Would be in the Army

 

Um… I got the third TIME STOPPERS book in the mail – the one that’s coming out super soon.

In sad news, I didn’t actually get to open the box of books, which is the ultimate writer happy moment because someone else did.

I know! I know! This means: 

  1. No unboxing video
  2. No glorious moment when I sob at the fact that I gave birth to a book baby

 

This makes me superstitious like: Why? Why didn’t I get to open my own box of books? Is this an omen? Does the universe hate me?

But here is the adorable book (Photo taken by the person who accidentally opened the book box and sent me the photo via cell phone).

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It’s super cute, isn’t it?

And I am now an anxious ball of freaking-out author, honestly because:

 

  1. I want people to notice that my book baby exists so that they can read it but also so that I can continue to have a writing career. Spoiler: You have to actually sell books to have a writing career. Sad, sad truth, I know.
  2. I am bad at self promotion.

 

And this book isn’t my normal book. It’s middle grade, not young adult. It’s the book that’s closest to my heart because it’s the book I wrote for Em when she was a kid. It’s the book that made me quit my job as a newspaper editor and get a MFA at Vermont College and become a writer in the first place.

 

Carrie Jones Dear Bully 70 Authors tell their stories
Em of Awesome

 

And last week, Em (who is no longer little) left after being home on leave and went back to Fort Benning. Her special task force has been deployed to Afghanistan already and I’m not sure if she’s going to be going, too.

Someone in her task force has already died.

I know you’re supposed to accept that possibility. I’m not good at accepting that possibility. And my heart breaks when I think about that soldier’s family.

Recently, a friend told me about a conversation that they overheard about Emily. It was basically….

“There’s this local girl. Her parents are pretty liberal. She went to Harvard. She’s beautiful. She joined the Army. By choice. By choice!”

“What?”

“Yeah, I know right? And she’s a field artillery officer now.”

And that conversation is basically about people’s preconceived notions about who joins the United States’ military and why. Here’s the thing: There is no one type of person who joins and they all don’t join for the same reasons. Some of the people in there are Republicans, some are Democrats. There are all races and religions and genders and IQs.

There is no one way to be.

Which is part of what this country is supposed to be about – the freedom to speak, to think, to assemble, to worship, a freedom of the press.

Freedoms.

And that’s what my Time Stoppers series has been about, too. Only in a kids’ book because that’s what I write.

Anyway, I dropped Em off at the airport that’s a couple hours away from where we lived and cried all the way home. I know! I know! I’m supposed to be all tough and brave and Army mom.

But I am not tough or brave or Army mom.

I have a hard time even asking for people to like and review my book on places like Amazon. But I do know that when people try to define an entire group/category as one thing or one thought or one demographic? I’m going to bristle.

It’s our differences that make us amazing. It’s our diversity that makes us stronger and pushes us towards progress. And I am so proud of Em for being brave and strong and putting herself out there in a world that currently doesn’t always value that. And I am so proud of the kids in this book series that I initially wrote for her. Because they do the same thing.

I hope you’ll read it.

I hope you’ll review it somewhere.

And I hope you’ll spread the world.

We all depend on each other, my friends. That’s the biggest truth out there. We all have roles (which can change) but together? We’re a pretty awesome team.

 

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can pre-order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date is August 7! 

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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.

Ebook on Sale for July – and July is almost over! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

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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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How to Make People Keep Reading

I’m about to revise a lot of my own stories and in the next couple of months, I’m going to see if I can figure out how to self publish instead of continuing traditional publishing, so I’m trying to pretend that I won’t have a ton of editors helping me, no writing mentors, just me.

And that’s a little scary.

But it’s made me think more fully about my own stories and how I can apply the tools I use when I teach writing to my own darn writing.

I know! I know! That should be easy, right?

It’s not as easy as I thought because it requires stepping away from the book and thinking as a reader, as a writer, and as an editor, but mostly as a reader.

And the main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s start!

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

Hooking Your Readers - Wednesday Writing Series

Begin your story with the moment that will transform the main character or world.

Begin with the girl moving to Maine from Charleston and seeing something strange on the side of the road like I did with the NEED series.

Begin with the male member of the ‘class couple’ telling his girlfriend that he’s gay like I did in the TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex) BOYFRIEND books.

Have a really strong voice of the narrator.

The Martian’s first line is, “I’m pretty much f*cked.”

That combines the pivotal moment with a super strong narrative voice.

Or the Color Purple begins with, “You better not tell nobody but God.”

Which has a great voice and a mystery set in, too. What shouldn’t they tell?

Next week, I’ll have two more tips.

Do Good Wednesday

Puerto Rico still needs assistance and so does Guatemala. You can help by spreading the word or donating to the Hispanic Federation, a nonprofit involved with advocacy for Latino communities.

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The Hispanic Federation’s three big campaigns right now are:

Check it out. Think deeply. Care. That’s how you do good.  That’s how you make a difference in the world and your community. You’ve got this. Sparty the Rescued Dog believes in you.

 

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Sparty: I do! I believe in you.

 

Writing News

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 my book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun because it’s about Moe Berg and it’s a picture book. I’m heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

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.

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services, but I’m also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

And finally, for the month of July, my book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

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Proof of the sale-nature of July.

 

Thanks so much for reading my blog! Please comment or say ‘hi!’ if you feel like it!

 

On Being Less

A lot of people spend a lot of time trying to make other people feel like less and it becomes such a big deal that we start to believe it. They put us in boxes according to our race, class, religion (or non religion), abilities, physicality, sexuality, gender. And they use those boxes to trap us. To make us feel less than…

Less than good

Less than perfect

Less than human.

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Sparty the Dog: Dude, that is so not chill.

Me: I know.

Sparty: I’m totally giving those trolls some side eye right now.

Me: Thanks, buddy.

Sparty: Anytime. It makes me pant in an unpleasant way when humans turn troll.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, decades ago, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

 

Here’s the thing

We are not less.

You are not less.

 

Nobody is less unless they use their societal advantages to hate, to degrade, to deride, to troll other people. Nobody is less unless they choose to live in greed and not care about humanity and children and what it means to be good.

That’s hard to believe sometimes, but we have to. We have to believe it. We are not less. I’m not. You aren’t. Be earnest. Be you, your soul is beautiful and that is more.

 

You are more.

You are so much more.

Writing News

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. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

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.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

And finally, for the month of July, Carrie’s book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.37.18 PM

Proof of the sale-nature of July.

 

Thanks so much for reading my blog! Please comment or say ‘hi!’ if you feel like it!

 

xo

Carrie

Mommy Fears (in Honor of the Emster)

In honor of the Emster being home on leave this week, I’ve conjured up this old blog post about my mommy fears and her innate Emster capabilities.

What I find interesting about this is: 

  1. How openly neurotic I have always been.

  2. How she has always been kick-butt.

 

Here you go: 

Okay. You know how when you’re a mom you have these certain levels of fear when it comes to your kid? Well, most moms do. Sorry to all you people who are not moms or aren’t neurotic. You will probably be bored with this blog post.

 So there’s the deepest level of Mom Fear, which is that:

1. Your child will be kidnapped on an airplane like in that Jodi Foster movie where she ends up blowing up the airplane in a feat of total mom awesomeness.
2. Your child will be assaulted or violated.
3. Your child will be murdered/seriously injured or threatened to be like in that Denzel Washington movie where he’s the bodyguard but he might as well be the dad because he is so amazing to Pita and she even names her teddy bear after him.
4. Your child will marry a ghoul:

Mommy Fears-2
Please do not marry him, Em, at least not when he’s like this.

But then I have what I call the Secondary Level of Mom Fear, which includes:

My child will starve because I have no income.

My child will become a heroin addict because I suck, etc…

My child will become a monster full of hate.

But also on this Mom fear level is this one:

My child will get on the wrong airplane at the airport.

And yep… It happened.

So the Emster was done with this super cool Fresh Film Program in New York City (thanks to amazing author and human Saundra Mitchell) and she was flying home to Maine. Em did everything right:

1. She got a car and had money to pay it. She got in the car at 8 a.m.
2. She told the driver she wanted to go to US Airways at Laguardia Airport.
3. She buckled her seat belt. Gold star, Em! Gold star!

But then things went wrong. There was an accident. Traffic stalled. She was stuck there for about an hour. But finally they move again. The driver drops her off at the airport, but wait — He drops her off at the United terminal. Em realizes this once she gets inside. She asks for help. Twice. She runs to the shuttle for the other terminal. The shuttle bus doors have just closed. She looks hopeless.

Em is the one smiling with teeth. 😉

Hopeless doesn’t work. So, instead she goes into Looking Cute mode. The shuttle bus doors magically open.  She asks the driver for help. He tells her to hop on. She does. There are a MILLION stops. They get to the terminal. She goes to the kiosk to get her boarding pass but she doesn’t have a credit card and can’t pay the $20 for her luggage. Someone else helps. She gives them cash. They don’t even make her weigh her suitcase. Score! (Note: Shoes are heavy. Em likes shoes).

She finds the Security Screening. She goes through. She finds her gate. It is 9:30. Her plane is supposed to leave at 10. There is nobody milling around like normal. Em being the astute little camper that she is, goes to the woman at the little podium/counter thing and asks if this is the gate for the Bangor, Maine flight.

Woman: That flight is closed.

Em: !!!!!

She decides to look cute again.

 Em is still the same one.

Woman (speaks into walkie-talkie): MUMBLE MUMBLE.

Em: ?????!!!!

Woman (to Em):
Okay. You can go out. The plane is on the tarmac.

They let her through the doors. She rushes to the airplane, climbs up the stairs, gets on, looks at her ticket and then says to the flight attendant:
Is this the plane to Bangor, Maine?
Flight attendant person: No. This is the plane to Buffalo.

Em:

Flight attendant person:
The Bangor plane is behind us, I think.

Em runs down the stairs, across the tarmac and towards a plane that was completely obscured by the Buffalo plane. She drops things on the tarmac. She picks things up. She runs. She scrambles up the flight of stairs and says, “Is this the plane to Bangor?”

It is.

But wait!

Her seat is gone. They have given it away because she is late.

“NO!!!!!!!!” Em screams.

But they let her sit in the exit row all by herself. She buckles up and makes it. Nobody kidnaps her. She does not fly to Buffalo. She flies home.

She is amazing.

And cute.

And resourceful as heck.

Me: You will write about this some day.

Em: I have already lived it once; I do not want to live it again.

Writing News

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. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

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.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

And finally, for the month of July, Carrie’s book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

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Proof of the sale-nature of July.

 

Thanks so much for reading my blog! Please comment or say ‘hi!’ if you feel like it!

 

xo

Carrie

Cooking With a Writer – Amazing Twice Baked Potatoes

In my never ending quest to make The Man a vegetarian (or to at least eat less meat), I pulled out the American comfort food that clogs almost every happy vegetarian’s arteries.

Yes… twice baked potatoes.

I know! I know! It’s full of dairy.

It’s one step at a time over here, people. One step at a time.

Twice Baked Potato

When your potatoes are overachievers. 

  • 2 whole baking potatoes
  • 4 slices bacon
  • .5 cup sour cream
  • .25 cup milk
  • .5 cup cream cheese (onion and chive flavor is awesome)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • .5 cup cheddar cheese
  • 4 bits green onion (slice the onions up and separate into two piles)
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  1. Writer! Find your oven! Turn it on to 350 Fahrenheit.

    Hint: Oven is usually in the kitchen. 

  2. Poke holes in your potatoes. Rub them in a little oil if you have it, but not a lot because you don’t want them to drip. Place the potatoes in the oven. Keep them there for 60 minutes. 

    Think about potatoes. They are so versatile like those annoying writers who get starred reviews in multiple genres. Try not to hate potatoes. Fail. Those jerks. MUST THEY BE ABLE TO DO EVERYTHING? 

  3. Take potatoes out of the oven. Realize that not only are they a versatile food capable of inspiring Seamus Heaney poems, but they also inspire children’s games like hot potato.

    Hate them more.

    Realize that you will eat them and they will become a part of you. You win in this power struggle. You the writer are going to triumph over the potato.

  4. Let them cool for 10 minutes.

    Realize you could just eat them now as regular old baked potatoes. Why do you need to be fancy?

    Because other writers are fancy. That’s why. And you can overachieve, too, even if you are still wearing your pajamas at 7 p.m. and you woke up at 8 a.m. Hey! You woke up. That’s achieving.

  5. Cut the poor potatoes in half lengthwise.

    This feels violent. You are not violent.

    Continue on and scoop the soft potato innards into a large bowl.

    Save skins. They aren’t really skins. It’s okay. Let’s call them peels. That sounds nicer.

    Save the peels. Try not to rip them.

  6. Add cream cheese, sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, onion powder, and 1/2 the green onions.  Add all of that to the potato innards. 

    Then mix it until it is creamy. Use a hand mixer if you have electricity and stuff like hand mixers. If not just whip it into a frenzy with a potato masher. Do you have one of those? How about a fork? Even that will work. 

  7. Put all of that stuff  into the potato skins. Top each with remaining cheese, and green onions.

  8. Put it in the oven again for 15 minutes.

    Appreciate that you overachieved and went for it. You did it, writer! Eat up! 

Dog Verdict: PLEASE PUT BACON ON THESE.

Man Verdict: These would be even more amazing with bacon bits, but I like them. I like them a lot.

Me: EVERYTHING IS NOT BETTER WITH BACON! 

All others: (Blank stares).

Writing News

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.

Moe Berg The Spy Who Played Baseball
Moe Berg

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.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

 

Nena Has Seen Horrors

 

ANTIAGO, PANAMA — Nena has seen horrors. The wife of a member of a Santiago Rotary Club has seen it all and somehow the knowledge of human frailty and evil doesn’t diminish the light in her brilliant eyes or the passion in her advocacy.

When we enter a Santiago hospital and I ask her if she works here, she laughs.

“No,” she tells me. “I volunteer here. I volunteer everywhere. My husband. The man with the cane? He works here.”

Nena is from Mexico originally. She knows Spanish, English, Italian and Japanese. She is a Rotarian from birth, she says. Her father was a Rotarian. Her husband is a Rotarian. She is not an official part of the Santiago Rotary Club, which is about 26 members strong. Only one of those members is a woman.  She is still a Rotarian.

“There used to be five women.” She shrugs like this change in the membership dynamics is not much of a big deal.

She spends the day showing us the projects that the Santiago Rotarian men have accomplished, but also the projects that are propelled by the wives of the club, women who spend their times unofficially helping people while not being official Rotarians.

 One of those places she brings us is a home for children who are malnourished. Another is a home for children whose mothers are having difficulties. Some of them are orphans. Some of them are not officially orphans, but currently without parents. There are sisters whose father is their grandfather. There is Kimberly, 11, whose mother tried to kill her last year. Kimberly is sweet, perching on a coach, a desk, while the younger children frolic around her. She picks a multi-colored Beanie Baby bear and cradles it in her hands. She watches the Rotarians crowd in to meet her and the other children and hear how Rotary has helped them. She smiles shyly but quickly. I am instantly in love with her as she laughs as a Rotarian with spotty Spanish tries to figure out her age.

 “Her mother is in prison forever,” Nena says, voice quaking with anger. She tells us the story of another girl, eight years old, who she met in a hospital. “I saw her, saw the line on her belly and said, ‘This girl is pregnant.’”

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People scoffed.

But Nena persisted. “They said, ‘She hasn’t even had her first period yet.’ But I said, ‘She is.’”

They tested her and she was more than halfway through her pregnancy. Her mother couldn’t understand. It turned out that her grandfather watched her while her mother worked. Her grandfather had been raping her. He also sold her to his friends. He is in jail now.

“As far as I am concerned they should have cut off his balls,” Nena says.

Nena enters a home for children with troubles, children like Kimberly, those sisters, a little boy named Jesus, and Nena pauses to scoop up a baby, cradling him in her arms, cooing. She is justice and kindness. She is anger and action. She is love and grace and a million things all wrapped up in a small package of a woman that wears multiple pieces of jewelry at once.

The Bar Harbor and Ellsworth Maine Rotary Clubs and Nena visit schools and water towers that the Santiago Rotary Club has sponsored. We meet Jesus who folds his Ellsworth Blueberry Pancake Breakfast t-shirt into a precise rectangle, smiling at his colored pencils and coloring book. We meet school children who will have physical education class again simply because we have brought a few soccer balls. We meet Kimberly who smiles with love despite what her mother tried to do.

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 Ellsworth President David Wells hands out toys and t-shirts. Ellsworth High School student Josh Callnan inflates soccer balls with a pump that Dave Wheaton and Annette Higgins thought to bring. Retired professor, Sallie Boggs, is greeted by an eight-kindergartener simultaneous hug. Shaun Farrar is surrounded by children at each school he visits. The students gaze up and up at his 6 foot 6 inch frame with wonder, giggling as he asks their names.

“They think he is a giant,” one Santiago Rotarian laughs. “He is, actually.”

In a place where malnourishment is often an issue, growing so tall is rare. The Santiago Rotarians have made combatting malnourishment a priority creating five or six sites at schools where they hatch and raise chickens for six weeks, three times a year. The students then eat the chickens for lunch. Their parents take turns cooking, rotating throughout the year. The chickens that are not eaten are sold to buy more at an earlier stage in their life cycle.

Nourishment helps children have stronger minds and bodies. Rotarians, including former Santiago Club President Edwin Munoz, dispersed 10,000 dictionaries throughout Panama to give students access to words that will give them broader, stronger futures. `

Clean water is also important. Working with a Rotarian from Texas, the club has provided multiple water tanks to both residential areas and schools. The Texas Rotarian’s wife had died. When they were visiting Panama she had been saddened by the lack of running water in schools. School would have to be closed in the middle of the day so children could wash and get water off site.

“It was disruptive,” says their principal. “This is so much better.”

The Santiago Rotarians have even provided sewing machines to the local hospital so that workers could make hospital gowns and surgery garments for doctors and patients.

Hospital Director Doctor Rafael Andrade addressed the Rotarians and speaking both about the sewing machines and the wheelchairs that the Ellsworth and Bar Harbor Rotarians brought over said, “There is no word for this because it is something that comes from you’re heart. I hope that this visit is not your last time here.”

As the Rotarians visited the bowels of the hospital to see the industrial sewing machines, Nena said, “They have needs. The hospital – everyone – they have many needs. They want wheelchairs, too.”

 Rotary and Nena and the women like her keep picking away at those needs. When the home for malnourished children needed a physical therapy room, Rotarians from Panama and the United States stepped up.

“They needed a wall for the room. We built a wall. They needed another wall for a room. They built another wall. Piece by piece is how these things happen,” Nena says.

 And she’s right. It is piece by piece, volunteer by volunteer, wheelchair by wheelchair, water tower by water tower that change happens, that lives become a little bit better, that hope because reality. Change and hope, service and volunteerism are powerful things. It doesn’t matter if it’s little steps. All that matters is that it’s steps in the right direction. That direction is forward. That direction is to a better life. That direction is towards hope.

 

DO GOOD WEDNESDAY

Rotary International Makes a Massive Difference One Person at a Time

The problems that Rotary International members tackle in the world and the local communities can seem massive and overwhelming, until you realize that Rotary has 1.2 million members fighting for good, piece by piece, moment by moment, person by person.

I was lucky enough to be a part of a few wheelchair projects. This is a piece about one of those projects. To find out more about Rotary, check out www.mdirotary.org or www.rotary.org

Writing News

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. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

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.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

What I Used To Be

I used to be a newspaper reporter and editor for small award-winning local papers.

Sometimes I miss it.

Sometimes I don’t.

Thursday afternoon five workers (reporters, editors, sales) at the Capital, an Annapolis newspaper, were killed.

People are violently killed each day. In newsrooms. In homes. On streets. In wars. In schools. In places of religious worship.

Everywhere.

And that’s the thing.

It’s everywhere.

I Used To Be A Reporter and Editor

When I was a reporter and an editor, I made barely a living wage, but I did it because I loved learning about the people in my community and I loved sharing their stories. I didn’t do it for the money. There was no fame unless you count Maine Press Awards.

Spoiler alert: Those shouldn’t count.

There was just a passion to make sure that people knew what their local government was doing, what they could do, what was happening.

As a member of the press, I often felt powerless because I had to report on things that needed to change, but I couldn’t be an active agent/instigator/or participant in that change.

I still feel powerless even though I’m not confined by my job anymore.

Once the publisher and executive editor of the second paper I worked for called editorial staff into a meeting because someone we wrote about in the police beat was threatening the paper. The police were made aware, but our downstairs office was vulnerable with big opening windows, meant to reflect the transparency of our work and our openness to staff.

One of my editors said to me after, “We will all die if someone comes in here with a gun.”

I said, “I know.”

“What can we do?” he asked.

“Just continue until we can’t,” I suggested. “I mean, what else can we do?”

I didn’t really believe it would happen. Not really. The meanest thing I had to deal with as a reporter was people insulting my intelligence because I had ‘pigtails.’

Note: They were braids.

I didn’t live in fear. The worst thing I had to deal with were town managers making sexual comments and random people asking me out on dates and a boss #metooing me into another position.

Yes, I did make that a verb, a hashtag verb.

I Used To Be Innocent

I thought people could understand that everyone was human and that once they had that magical understanding – poof! – their hate would stop.

I forgot about greed as a motivation.

I forgot that people ignore facts that don’t support their belief systems.

I was naive.

When politicians and hate-media vilify the press, reporters, journalists, photographers, they are vilifying and dehumanizing people – real people – often your neighbors.

Let me tell you about the reporters I know, working right now. 

There’s a woman who sings to a friend’s dog on back porches during parties, quietly bonding with him when everyone else has left him.

There’s a man who plays drums in a 80s cover band. I found a body with him once.

There’s a woman who falls in love with every stud she interviews, but never ever does anything. She likes chocolate and her family.

There’s a woman who wants to be a traditionally published author much more than she wants to be a reporter, a woman who dreams.

There’s another man who walks his golden through the neighborhoods of Bar Harbor, greeting everyone he sees with care and kindness.

They are not anyone’s enemy. Just like children aren’t. Just like black men driving aren’t. Just like a wife isn’t.

But I don’t know how to make people understand that.

I Used To Be Someone Who Believed in Safety

I thought that my closet was safe, my mom, big dogs, my bed surrounded by stuffed animals. I was lucky that way because for a long time I believed that home was always a good place, a place to run to. Not everyone had that. Not everyone gets that. And then I thought work was that place… until it wasn’t.

What does it mean to live in a world where nothing is safe? Where going to school, going to church/temple/mosque, going to eat, standing on a corner, sleeping in a bedroom, walking down a street, doesn’t feel safe?

It feels like this. It feels like denial and shock if you have been living privileged and lucky.

But what it really feels like?

Is wrong.

So many times in the last ten years I’ve pitched book ideas only to hear, “That doesn’t happen. That doesn’t still happen.”

People were shocked by #metoo, shocked by the systemic racism that causes people to die, shocked by the continuation of white supremacy groups, by the mysogyny, by anti-LGBTQA crimes, by human trafficking, and hate.

That shock is a lovely luxury, but we can’t be shocked anymore.

I Used To Be Someone Who Thought I Could Save The World. Alone.

I had a savior complex. I know better now.

 

When people tell us their stories, don’t laugh. Listen. Be honored that they trust you enough to share themselves with you – and that includes the sad, scared, angry parts, too.

Women shouldn’t be afraid of violence in their homes. Children shouldn’t be afraid of violence in their schools and homes. People shouldn’t be afraid of police, of nightclubs, of  snipers and bombs and sometimes even cars.  People shouldn’t be afraid to post their opinion on the internet because it could mean stalking and trolls. People shouldn’t be afraid to worship or protest or eat at a restaurant or board a plane or go to work or practice for a softball game or drive a car while black, or stand outside their home while in the Tohono O’ogham Nation.

But people are afraid. Or they are shocked.

Exposing the hate that happens? That’s a first step. But it’s only one step and this fight, the rectifying of our society isn’t going to happen in a straight line. There has to be multiple work on multiple fronts and one of those fronts is inside of ourselves.

Here’s a Huffington Post article that shows just how real the anti-press hate is. It is uncensored and explicit.

 

 

Writing News

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.

Moe Berg The Spy Who Played Baseball
Moe Berg

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.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.