Girls on the Back Stairs, How Nils Lofgren Made Me a Pain

It’s the 1980s in Manchester, New Hampshire, and I was hanging out with my best friend, J, who had a terrific crush on Bruce Springsteen. While some people loved The Boss, J- was… she was a researcher. She knew random facts, not-so-random facts, stats, stories, everything.

She was an expert in all things Bruce.

And that was why we were hanging out on the back stairs of this run-down club in the bad part of Manchester. To be fair, this was not the only bad part of Manchester back then. It was sort of hard to find a good part of Manchester back then.

Inside the club was Nils Lofgren who was part of the E. Street Band and therefore super important to J.  He was touring to support his solo album, Flip, I think, but honestly I don’t know. I was more into bands like The Alarm, The Waterboys, artists like Tracy Chapman and Kate Bush and the Q-Tips and Tuck and Patti.

Me = Always weird.

J really wanted to listen to Nils Lofgren play.  Nils was a guy, way older than us. He was a guy with a guitar who sang gritty songs. He was a guy with a guitar who sang gritty guitars in grimy clubs and that was all that mattered to J. I went along for the ride because that’s what friends do.

The problem?

J’s mom wasn’t the kind of mom to let her hang out at a club that was 18 and up. Plus, we had no fake IDs. And if we had fake IDs, they still wouldn’t have worked because we looked like babies.

We were babies.

But we were super focused on hearing Nils play. If we could hear him, that would almost be like seeing him, right?

So, J. lied to her mom and said we were going to the high school football game. My mom dropped us off somewhere. J’s brother (who really was at the high school football game) saw us take-off and called his mom.

We didn’t know that though. We were too busy being ‘bad girls,’ sneaking up those back stairs and listening to Nils and his band.

“He knows Bruce,” J whispered.

“I know.”

“He’s so good. He’s so talented. Isn’t he?”

“Totally.”

She half fainted on the stairs. We could hear everything. Every hard drum beat, every guitar lick, every vocal, every bass line. It was … It was pretty freaking awesome, honestly.

And then the door opened and the owner of the club saw us. “What are you girls doing?”

“Listening.”

Listening.

Listening didn’t really encompass all we thought we were doing. We thought we were being rebels, live wires, Calamity’s children, free and crazy and suddenly cool because we were there – right there – where we weren’t supposed to be. But how do you tell that to a random club owner who is staring at you.

There was a break in the music and then we heard people talking.

What is it? 

It’s girls.

What are they doing?

Listening?

They’re babies.

Let them be, man. Let them be. 

These voices came to us like these mighty Greek gods, deciding our fate.

“Can we stay?” I asked finally brave.

“You can stay.”

I swear, J. almost fainted again. But the best part? The best part was that the club people propped open the door so we could hear better. And the other best part was when Nils proclaimed, “This one is for the girls on the back stairs.”

It was the 1980s in Manchester, New Hampshire and neither of us were cool, but we knew what good music sounded like and we were dimly aware that there was greatness in the walls of that grimy club that night, that the music world was amazing and eye-opening and bigger than us and for a second we got to be a part of it. We got to be the girls on the back stairs.

I always get in trouble with my handlers at book signings or after speaking events for Rotary and other things because I’m not fast at signing books or answering questions. Nils Lofgren is the reason for that. What was a throw-away moment for him resonated in my kid self forever. We were seen. We got to stay.

And that’s a big deal. When someone else listens and notices you? It’s huge. So, I hate rushing through signings or after events because I want to see people I’m interacting with, really see them for the time I get with them. That’s a gift, you know? And it’s a gift Nils Lofgren gave us.

And, yes, we got in trouble.

 

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA
“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?

 

I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
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
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“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 
How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.com and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

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Don’t Let Things (Like Fear, Other People,Your Own Self) Hold You Back

Writing isn’t always easy. It isn’t always this beautiful, muse-induced utopia. Sometimes it’s grueling; it can make your nerves shatter. But the thing is that it’s not always THE WRITING that’s doing that. It’s you that’s doing that.

Writing is hardest when you let other people’s doubts sink into your soul. Writing is hardest when you let other people’s criticism become part of your essence.

It shouldn’t be your essence.

And sometimes writing is just hard all on its own because it’s drawing on your own pain, on your empathy for other people’s pain, because it’s showing you all that’s wrong in the world and making you gush out words in the page because that is the only way – the only way – that you can figure out how to maybe fix those wrongs.

That’s what writing is.

It’s all things. Just like people are. Just like you are.

The journey of the story is meant to make you into something different. It’s meant to mark you, your heart, your readers’ hearts, even your body sometimes. That’s what story is about. It’s what life is about, too.

Hopefully, sometimes you get to have something beautiful. Hopefully, you can find the beauty inside that journey, even the ones full of pain. Hopefully, you get to leave a piece of yourself behind. That’s what it’s about. That’s story and life and you.

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA
“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
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
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews on QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN ARROW

“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 on TIME STOPPERS
How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.com and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

The Why? Also HOLY CRUD, my book is coming out tomorrow and I am legit freaking out and having a total existential crisis post.

Maybe since I have a book coming out tomorrow, I’ve been thinking a lot about success and happiness because I think too much, honestly, but I recently found a TedTalk by a guy who was thinking about things in a way that I was.

To be fair, he was talking about what makes a good leader and not specifically about personal success and/or happiness.

But to me, that’s all part of the same thing.

We all have to be leaders in our own life, the protagonists of our story, right? So our success and happiness comes from how we lead and live our lives.

And this guy, Simon Sinek, talks about the “why.” Great leaders know the why of their brand or their company or their cause, he says. They communicate and motivate from the inside out.

In his Ted Talk, he says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”

And he cites a whole bunch of examples to back his theory up. So, you should check it out, but before you do, I’m hoping you’ll think about yourself. What do you believe?

Why do you do what you do?

Why do you write books? Why do you sing songs? Why do you caretake houses? Why do you watch the shows you watch or geek out over the things you geek out about?

IMG-5852

Sparty the Dog: How about you, Carrie?

Oh, Sparty. Seriously? You’re going to ask me this right now.

Sparty: Of course. That is the point of dog. Our ‘why’ is to make humans happy, think deeply, and also to make them feel loved and score some bacon out of the deal.

Okay. I write books because I believe in kids and the power of empathy. I write books because I believe that we have to escape into goodness and magic for awhile. I write books because I want to be heard and to inspire others about friendship and love and goodness.

Dogs are Smarter Than People
Hmm… Let me think about that.

Sparty: What about that Rotary thing you’re always volunteering for? You’re always running off places to run meetings and train people about public image and let me tell you, those times do not involve bacon for me. So, I kind of resent them.

I am so sorry, buddy! But bacon is not everything in life.

Sparty: Yes, it is.

Cough. Okay, I’m in Rotary because I believe that people can make a difference in other people’s lives, that we can make communities stronger, that we can change things – eradicate the bad and lift up the good. Rotary is a global network of leaders who commit to making a difference and creating good in their community and the world.

When I was talking to a friend last week about all the kids Rotary has immunized against Polio, he couldn’t believe it.

“That’s not possible,” he said. “2.5 billion kids isn’t possible.”

But it is. It’s true. It’s possible. Why do that? Because why wouldn’t you save a kids’ life? That’s why.

And books (maybe not mine) can save kids lives too. They make possibilities, places to escape to when you’re world is too bad to deal with. They are information wrapped up in empathy and we as a world? We need that.

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! THAT IS TOMORROW!!! ACK!!!! 

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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.

This is the link to my blooper reel where I’m trying to read a chapter of my book like a normal, non-weird, non-dorky writer would. Be warned. It is horrifying. Legit horrifying.

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.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

 

Blissed Out Monday

IMG-5852Sparty the Dog: Human, I worry about you.

Me: Why now, Sparty?

Sparty the Dog: Not you specifically, but all humans, really.

Me: 

Sparty the Dog: 

Me: Okay. Ready.

Sparty: You live too much in your mind and not enough in your heart.  You live too much in your teams and not enough as a whole. You think differences are scary and surround yourself with the similar.

Me: 

Sparty: I broke your brain, didn’t I?

Me: Pretty much.

 

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! 

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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.

Carrie is the writing coach I always dreamed of having. She has such a great balance in her feedback between singing your praises at what is working and giving you honest criticism at what still needs development. Carrie goes above and beyond in her editorial letters, giving very clear and detailed feedback, and her eagerness to answer any questions makes the whole experience of critique—which can be a very vulnerable experience—make you feel like you’re with a trusted friend that you’ve known for years (even though you just met). 
 – Jason Gallagher, author of WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE

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.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

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

It’s okay to wander in life.

At the Abbe Museum Indian Market yesterday, it was about artists and bringing attention to the Wabanaki heritage and culture.

That’s what the Abbe Museum is all about.

The event though? It also created connections as people exchanged snippets of their lives and stories with each other.

One artist showed a old photo in a book to a guest. “It’s this picture. She’s right here.”

“Yes! It’s my grandmother’s niece.”

There was a moment of nodding, smiling and the artist asked the man on the other side of the table, “Are you a writer?”

“Nah, just a regular person wandering around today,” he said.

“Oh, that’s what we all always are, isn’t it?”

His smile grew bigger and they shared a silence.

Sometimes when you hear real truths? There are no other words.

I hope that your Monday and your week is full of truths and big realizations of wandering around and being regular and being real.

Here are some photos I took:

Molly Neptune
Molly Neptune
Geo Neptune
Geo Neptune
JJ
Molly

What does it mean to be a regular wandering person? What does it mean to find your own truths? It means you aren’t defining yourself by your job, your labels, other people’s expectations.

It means you are being and existing and observing without definitions.

It means that you are drawing in experiences to use later if you’re a writer or an artist or a person who interacts with others.

When we live our biggest lives, when we wander and experience? We learn, not just about other people but also about ourselves.

Dogs are Smarter than People
Love

Gabby the Dog is so into that and I am, too.

 

As writers, we try to create emotional truths in our readers. We try to make them feel and understand life and story through our characters.

Here are a couple things to remember when you’re writing fiction:

  1. Thoughts lead to feelings.
  2. Saying “I am so sad,” doesn’t really make us readers feel sad. But showing us how a woman feels the cold side of the bed. A name comes into her head. She reaches out her hand. The bed is still cold. She hugs a pillow, clutching it to her. . . . That can show us more than ‘sad,’ it can show us ‘sad-lonely.”
  3. Emotional truths in our story are the truths that resonate with us. They are the things that hurt us deeply, lift us up. Things we are passionate about. Remember your passion, your beliefs, when you write. It will help inform those truths.

 

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog .  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

Write! Submit! Support! Begins Again in July!

There is a quick webinar (free) on Tuesday about the Write! Submit! Support! class that was created at the Writing Barn in Austin. You can sign up for that here.

It’s not easy to create a thriving writing career in the children’s industry, but what if you didn’t have to do it alone? Write. Submit. Support is a six-month program designed by author and Writing Barn Founder Bethany Hegedus. Classes are led by top creatives in the children’s industry field; they’ll give you the tips and tools you need to take both your manuscripts and your developing career to the next level. Think of it as an MFA in craft with a certificate in discovering (or recovering) your writer joy! – Writing Barn 

And more about the class I specifically teach? It is right here.

Here is what current students are saying:

Carrie is all strengths. Seriously. She’s compassionate, funny, zesty, zany, insightful, honest, nurturing, sharp, and…Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives. But really, I couldn’t praise Carrie enough as a mentor. I’ve long respected her writing, but being talented at something doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great mentor. Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching. Aside from the specific feedback she offers, she also writes letters in response to the process letter and analyses. These letters have been so impactful for me as I writer that I plan to print them and hang them up. Creepy? Maybe. But they are so inspiring. And that, in the most long-winded way possible, is how I would summarize Carrie as a mentor—inspiring.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Bright Girls – Don’t Give Up! Stay Shiny

“She found that Bright Girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up; the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel.”

So, there was an old blog  post on the Huffington Post by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D that references Carol Dweck’s studies in the 1980s on how smart girls and smart boys dealt with material that was new and challenging.

Halvorson wrote:

She found that Bright Girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up; the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult material as a challenge, and found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts rather than give up.

Why does this happen? What makes smart girls more vulnerable and less confident when they should be the most confident kids in the room? At the 5th grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science. So there were no differences between these boys and girls in ability, nor in past history of success. The only difference was how bright boys and girls interpreted difficulty — what it meant to them when material seemed hard to learn. Bright Girls were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result.

She thought it was about how parents deal with their kids. She wrote:

More often than not, Bright Girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.

How do girls and boys develop these different views? Most likely, it has to do with the kinds of feedback we get from parents and teachers as young children. Girls, who develop self-control earlier and are better able to follow instructions, are often praised for their “goodness.” When we do well in school, we are told that we are “so smart,” “so clever, ” or “such a good student.” This kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness and goodness are qualities you either have or you don’t.

Boys, on the other hand, are a handful. Just trying to get boys to sit still and pay attention is a real challenge for any parent or teacher. As a result, boys are given a lot more feedback that emphasizes effort (e.g., “If you would just pay attention you could learn this,” “If you would just try a little harder you could get it right.”) The net result: When learning something new is truly difficult, girls take it as sign that they aren’t “good” and “smart,” and boys take it as a sign to pay attention and try harder.

 

I was thinking about this specifically as an author. You hear a lot of horror stories about people trying for decades to get published, and you hear a lot of stories about how authors even when they are published don’t feel like they are good enough, or are afraid to go for big author goals. You hear and read a lot of blog posts about people who just don’t think they are good enough and they give up sometimes.

My Post-24

When I get fan letters from yet-to-be-published writers, a lot of it asks for writing advice and I usually tell them this:

Don’t just expect to be amazing. Writing is a craft. The more you do it, the better you get at it. People don’t expect to be brilliant guitar players or sculptors the first time they tackle a guitar or a piece of marble. But writers expect to be stunning with their very first story.

In a way, I think that’s kind of like to what Halvorson and Dweck were saying. To succeed in anything, you have to be willing to think that it’s cool to overcome challenges (in plot, or character development) and BELIEVE that you can. You sort of have to look at life and writing and problems as something that’s a cool adventure, and not think you are a miserable and total failure if you don’t get it perfect the first time.

It’s time to stop being hard on ourselves.

Seriously.

You are allowed to stink.

If you fail 8,000 times it doesn’t mean you are dumb or not worthy. It just means you are on an adventure. But you have to chose to allow yourself to be on that adventure, chose to not think you are the epitome of suckitude every time you get rejected or a bad review, or don’t instantly understand AP Computer Science or some new grammatical construction in a language you’re learning. It doesn’t mean you are any less worthy, any less awesome.

I swear.

What do you think? Are these researchers onto something? Are you female and do you think you give up on tasks too easily? Are you a guy and you do the same thing? Do you think people in the arts (no matter what his/her gender) do this more than people do in other fields?

My Post-23

So How Do You Not Give Up. How Do You Cultivate Your Shiny?

Give yourself room to not be perfect.

Realize that perfection isn’t attainable, but being better/doing better? That is.

Let Your Goal Motivate You

Whatever you want? Want it really, really bad.

Cultivate Your Inner Cheerleader

Let the voice inside you lift you up the way you want to lift up others. Be as encouraging to yourself as you are to your partner, your kids, your students, your friends.

Give Yourself Time

Things that are worth it can take awhile? Think about the writing of Harry Potter, the making of a bouillabaisse, of sculpture. Skills have to be worked on. Thoughts have to be thought. Actions have to occur in order to get to what you want to understand or create or be. So, allow yourself the time to make it happen.

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Writing News

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along!

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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.

Monday Motivation and Writing Process; Being Weird? It’s totally okay.

Life isn’t usually a nice ascent where you get to your end goal and never get knocked down or have a set back.

But the point is to keep moving forward, to keep striving and loving and fighting for what you believe in.

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For a long time, Marsie the Cat was super afraid to go outside into the big world. She was only okay with it if you put her on a leash like a dog. She liked being tethered to her humans, which is good news for birds, honestly, since cats kill so many songbirds.

But anyway, Marsie worked her way up to facing her fears. She took one step outside. Then another. Then another. She explored the world.

Marsie the Cat: Are you going to tell the humans that they should be like me and be brave?

Me: Basically.

Marsie: Humans should always emulate cats.

Me: 

Marsie: Fine. Go on with the blog. Also, please don’t tell them that I’ve never killed anything. The other cats would mock my pacifist ways.

Me: 

Marsie: They all heard that, huh?

Me: Pretty much.

In my own life, there are a TON of things that I’m hesitant to do because it feels too vulnerable or like it’s just… Well, like people will laugh at me, honestly. But then I think – Dude, people laugh at you all the time. Those people are just haters and at least you are giving them a moment of joy at your expense or… yeah… I don’t know there’s got to be a way to spin this positively.

Anyways, one of the weirder and more vulnerable parts of my writing process is painting. A lot of times when I get stuck, I paint something that expresses the moment of the story that I’m working on.

Sharing that makes me feel a bit jittery-vulnerable. But I’m sharing it because:

  1. Marsie wants me to. She thinks it’s motivating.
  2. This is my year of doing things that are hard for me like the podcast and being in THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID and stuff and rebooting a blog and having an occasional newsletter

BACK TO PROCESS

So, lots of other authors make notebook mosaics of images when they write a book. They’ll cut out pictures from magazines and glue them into a notebook or a big piece of cardboard paper and stare at these images to represent their characters.

Me?

Yeah, that would be far too logical a way for me to approach getting into the ‘essence’ and ‘imagery’ of my story.

Instead, I paint things. I do this despite the facts that:

1. I have NO IDEA how to paint.
2. I only took Art 101 in high school and it did not cover painting. It was all about drawing still life. I failed at it.
3. Did I mention the whole lack of artistic talent thing?

Oh! And also every Sunday morning I would draw cartoons when I was a kid and every Sunday morning my mom would declare, “Nobody in our family is an artist.”

And I would say, “Grammy paints.”

And she would say, “My side of the family.”

But because I am:

1. illogical
2. stubborn

I do not let this lack of training or talent or my mother’s genes stop me.

Art is way harder for me to share than:

1. Stories about my skirt falling down
2. Family tragedies
3. My writing (even poems).

I’m not sure why that is. I guess it’s almost like posting current diary entries or something, but here goes:

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So, this dark and dreary one (with the lens flash included for special coolness) is from the story AFTER OBSESSION that I co-wrote with Steve Wedel.  I had to get into the scary part of the story. And the sense of isolation and the creepy guy.

And this smoochy-smoochy one is for ENTICE (a NEED book), and yes, the people are kind of ugly…. I told you I couldn’t paint!  And yes, Zara’s hair is blonde. I ran out of black paint.  A real artist would have gone out and bought more black paint, but I’m a writer so….

*hyperventilates*

Excuse me. I have to go hide in shame.

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Okay, I’m back.
And yes, the guy has the weird beginnings of a beard, but that’s because I messed up. 😉

 

And you’d think after years of bad painting that I would eventually stop with this.IMG_0828
Spoiler: I haven’t stopped with this. There’s a whole bunch more on my art page.
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But the one I’m working on right now is for ANOTHER NOW, which is a time travel story that I’m working on. It’s YA and the first part takes part on Mount Desert Island in Maine. And I was thinking about how we add on paint and add on paint, but scratching it off? That’s also pretty cool and it reminds me of revising a book.
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Because when we revise, we scratch things out. We accentuate other things. It’s all about trying to make people feel and think. It’s all about communicating story as best as we can, right?
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And life is sort of like that. We add on and add on with our experiences, but we also can scratch out the parts of us we don’t like. We can quit boards and remove ourselves from bad places. We can work to bring more joy and meaning into our life and work to reduce our own negative qualities.
Revision isn’t just about adding on. It’s also about scratching out.
That’s pretty cool.

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along!

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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.

How Do You Become? Meeting Secret Superheroes

I used to sleep in a car.

That’s not as big a deal as you would think it was. Yes, it was Maine, but I had a really furry dog who was warm and cuddly.

Nobody knew I did this. Not my friends. Not the people I worked with. Not even my own family.

And I realized one morning as I was rolling up my sleeping bag and hiding the evidence, “Do I want to define myself as the woman who sleeps in a car with her dog?”

And the answer was no. Beds are warmer and cozier and they don’t give you a crick in your back.

Yesterday, I was at a Rotary International District Conference in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. There were these beautiful people all around me. Every one of them volunteers, defining themselves as people of action, people who make change in their community and all around the world.

While they were voting on their budgets, the man next to me gave me a save-the-date card. He was unassuming, thin and over 60, I think.

But this man? This man was a secret superhero. volunteering countless hours to help his community and the world. And then I realized – everyone in this room was the same – they were all changing the world, saving the world, pretty quietly, one teaspoon at a time.

Secret Superheroes

The card the secret superhero man gave me was for a Rotary conference. I have seen a million Rotary International cards, but this one was different.

It had a hashtag on top, which is such a big deal for Rotarians because they aren’t hashtag people. But it was the content of the hashtag that mattered to me:

#whatmightwebe.

“Oh,” I think I may have made a sharp inhale.

“Look at the back. There are quotes on the back.”

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“I love this,” I told him.

He smiled.

As writers and humans we cling to our definitions of who we are.

The first questions people usually ask me when we meet (and it’s not on book tour) is what I do and where I am from as if my job and location define me. It’s  kind of them to ask. I do the same thing.  But who we are isn’t our location and our occupation. It’s so much more. It’s what we decide it to be.

So become what you want to become. Let go of the things that define you. Easier said than done, right?

But you have to try. Let go of the labels that keep you in place and grab the ones you want to own, the ones that will expand you (not in a gassy way, but a uplifting way).

The first step?

Find your passion.

The second step?

Go after it.

When I started writing novels, I was a full-time editor for a small local newspaper sleeping in my car a lot. I wrote on notecards in my car while I waited to pick my daughter up from school. I wrote on the backs of state high school basketball programs during halftime when I was taking photos of a game. I wrote on a laptop balanced on my knee as I covered a planning board meeting. I wrote everywhere. That first story became this.

I just got the first pass proof pages this week for the last book in the series. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for publishing it.

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When I was writing these books back in 2006, I realized that I loved making up stories. So I thought, how can I do this well enough to do this for a living?

I sent a piece of that story and applied to Vermont College of Fine Arts. I got in. I freaked out. I worked ridiculously hard, producing three times the normal amount of work the other students produced.

Why?

Because I felt so lucky to be there, I didn’t want to screw it up.

Here’s the key though: I wanted to do it so much that my fear of failing? It wasn’t as strong as my want. I was willing to work tirelessly and becoming something.

That something wasn’t necessarily being a writer.

That something was becoming better.

I wanted to evolve, to become, to learn, to grow, to be better.

So, that’s the first step, defining your want, your passion, your need and going for it.

So, I’m asking you: What do you want to become?

It’s okay to take a moment to think about that. Sometimes we get so busy fulfilling our obligations and helping family and friends and just surviving, that we forget what we’re surviving for, what we’re aiming to become. And we even feel guilty for taking three extra minutes to actually think about our own selves and who we are.

It’s okay to spend a minute to think. You’ve got this.

WRITING NEWS AND STUFF

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,  I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

To find out more about my books, there are links in the header. And if you buy one? Thank you so much. Let me know if you want me to send you a bookplate.

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. If you want to help us out, please subscribe to it, share it, or tell us that you like it.

COOKING WITH A WRITER

I’ve started a tongue-in-spoon subgroup in my blog all about cooking vegetarian recipes as a writer. It is silly. The recipes still work though. Check it out here.

Black Bean Soup Recipe. Cooking with a Writer
There are white beans in this image. Try to pretend they aren’t there, okay?

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn classthat they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

 

Write Submit Support
Look. A typewriter.

 

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

These books are out there in the world thanks to Tor.

What books? Well, cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking actionSchool Library Journal

How To Survive When Your Skirt Falls Off In Front of the World

All of my friends know this story, but I think… Well, I want  you all to learn from my mistakes, so I’m telling it again.

Ready?

I am going to give a little word of advice to all writers going to Book Expo America (BEA) for the first time:

Ready?

Are you really ready?

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Here is my big sentence of wisdom: WEAR A SKIRT THAT FITS!

Seriously. That is the take-away from this.

That isn’t just a word of advice for writers, but for everyone except nudists, really. If you’re going to a big, important event, make sure your skirt fits.

I know this from experience because when I first went to BEA my skirt fell off (YES! PAST MY KNEES!) when I got out of the taxi in front of a bunch of people queuing in a line for the taxi. I was feeling all cool and jaunty. I was in New York City and not Maine. There were people everywhere. I was there as an author. A real live author person and my publisher was actually spending money to have me be there.  I felt sort of posh.

I was so psyched.

I must never be so psyched.

Because I am not posh. I am not all cool nor am I jaunty. I am a woman who dresses up like a lobster in the Fourth of July parade.

Bar Harbor Fourth of july lobster parade
I have practice being embarrassed.

Also, I should never be let out of Maine because people in the real world of cities do things like: 

  1. Look posh
  2. Wear make-up on their face
  3. Actually purchase make-up
  4. Wear matching socks
  5. Do not have skirts that fall down

Yeah. Never let me out of the state because I do not fit in a the world where flannel and fleece and lobster costumes aren’t the go-to clothing choices.

 

Carrie Jones books Writing Tips
Stay focused!

Anyways, back to the story! I’m a writer! I should stay focused.

NYT kids bestselling book author carrie jones gives writing tips, survival tips, cooking and dog advice in her blog
So focused

Book Expo America is this HUGE industry event that authors really get psyched to have their editors/publishers/marketing team send them to. It’s this super big deal.

And this is where I had my skirt malfunction. There. At the super big deal place. The place full of people who are posh, make-up wearing, with clothes that fit. The place full of people who could make or break my career.

I stepped out of the cab. The cab driver was super nice because he wanted a tip. I talked to him a lot because he kept asking me questions about the memoir he was writing because all cab drivers are writing memoirs.

I stepped out of the cab.

That was a mistake.

My skirt abandoned me like a filthy butt-head. Or maybe she was shy? Maybe NYC was too much for her and she’d just given up? Who knows. All I know is she fell. She fell all the way down to my ankles.

My ankles!

Spoiler alert: I was not wearing tights.

Fortunately, there was no paparrazzi, and nobody pulled out their cells so my shame did not go viral. Instead, the people who totally noticed were my cab driver (His eyes got really big and he stopped asking me questions about how to get published) and a father with his eight-year-old son (WHO WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!). The boy totally saw the whole thing. His mouth dropped open. He saw my underwear, seriously saw it. He was like five feet away. My bottom and his head were on the same level.

The same level!

*Hides head in shame*

This experience made me realize that I should not be let out of Maine. Obviously the people at Bloomsbury (my publisher) agreed with this since they did not send me to B.E.A. the next year.

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So, anyway there I stood outside the taxi right in Broadway, right in front of the hotel trying to yank my skirt up while

a. Paying the taxi driver guy
b. Not falling down dead from mortification
c. Juggling three massive bags full of ARCS (That stands for advanced reader copies, non-writer people)
d. Realizing that hotel security cameras probably totally caught the skirt fall action.
e. Thanking God that I am not famous and therefore not worthy enough to have the skirt DISASTER image blasted all over the internet.

I bet you didn’t know that BEA stood for Behind Exposed to America.

NYT kids bestselling book author carrie jones gives writing tips, survival tips, cooking and dog advice in her blog
My life is embarrassing. It’s okay. The first step is awareness.

Well, when you are me it does.

So, please, authors, remember that if you will be carrying free books, that it may cause you to lose a few pounds, so wear a belt! Please…

But where is the motivation in all this, you might wonder? This is supposed to be a Monday Motivation post.

It’s this – I survived.

Seriously.

Yes, I may have scarred that poor child and the taxi driver, but I went on and survived and nothing went viral and people still bought my books. And I got a story that I can laugh at a lot when – you know – I’m not crying.

Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Totally judging you, human.

That’s what matters. Cats know that. They fall off the counter? They bounce back up, shake it off, and glare at anyone who dares laugh at them. Cats are resilient. We should be more like that.

But also, we should make sure our skirts don’t fall down.

 

Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

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

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday. All the episodes links are on this page.

This podcast is weird, quirky, and totally authentic. I mean, you can tell we are goofy people just trying to share some writing tips and life tips and we are not sitting in the NPR studio. I mean look at us. We’re total dorks.

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

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

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.