He Likes to Hug

“He likes to hug,” Terri Olivia tells us about her son, Liandro. “He likes to hug a lot.”

Terri is not lying. 

Come within a foot of Liandro, a thin-calved tall boy with thick, brown hair and the kindest eyes, and you will be hugged. Your elbow will possibly be kissed. If you are wearing sunglasses, they will fall off your head. 

“He is full of love,” she says to the Rotarians from Bar Harbor and Ellsworth, Maine as they bring Liandro a wheelchair. “His heart is so full of it.” 

Liandro’S Scars

His heart is full of love, but his forehead is full of scars. Every time Liandro’s parents try to take him from their home, he collapses, leaning forward, hitting the hard surface head first. It happens in the home, too, sometimes. But mostly it happens outside when he crosses the threshold of the house into the world, the boy whose heart is full of love, panics, and if his parents (who both work at a nearby radio station) do not catch him, his forehead gets another scar. 

“His head falls first. Always first,” Terri says, sighing. “There is a commotion and then he falls.” She turns to Shelly Falk, incoming president of the Rotary Club of Corozal. “Bless you for doing this for us.” 

We all have scars

For a second, I think of my own body and all its scars that have happened from falling – falls I don’t remember because they happen when I had seizures. Scars that appear in random places. For a second, I think of how scared I am sometimes when I step out into the world, worrying about seizure scars and scars that can come from people unlike Liandro, from people who don’t think kindness and love are priorities.

The Rotary Club of Corozal was in charge of the distribution of wheelchairs in its area. Members of the Bar Harbor/MDI Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Ellsworth, Maine raised money to fund the wheelchairs through the Canadian Wheelchair Association and traveled to Belize to help fit, size, and distribute the chairs. 

“I am very happy,” Terri says as Liandro is fitted into a wheelchair and backed out of their home. He doesn’t fall. He doesn’t get another scar. There is no commotion.

Liandro seems happy too. Within minutes he is already hugging from his wheelchair. Nothing can stop a young man who is full of love, not scars, not thresholds, especially not when he has a wheelchair. 


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?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

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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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?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

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. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


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.

Changing the World. You can do it, too. How Rotary and Writers Make Stories for Good

What does it mean to find story? And what are the key elements to success as a writer and Rotarian?

This is the speech I give to Rotarians when they ask me for an inspiring speech versus straight-up public image training. 

I’m sharing it here because:

  1. I think more than Rotarians should hear it.
  2. I don’t know how often I’ll get to give it.
  3. It’s important to me.

Since 2007, I’ve traditionally published about 15 books, including an anti-bullying anthology, an internationally and NYT bestselling series, and medal-winners. I’ve learned a few things about story since then and I’ve learned a lot of things about people. One of the things I’ve learned is that:

Rotary and Writing Kids Books Have a Lot in Common. 

Why?

Because we are both telling stories and we are both using those stories to make a better world, to build connection and community

So how did I get published? How does anyone get published? That’s a big question people always ask. I quit my job as the editor of the Ellsworth Weekly, went to VCFA to get a master’s degree, a year later submitted my first book to an editor I knew nothing about other than he seemed super cool, and got lucky. 

But it’s about more than that.

It’s about content, craft and contacts

Content is what you want to say

Craft is how well you say it

Contacts are the final step of getting it out there in the world. And everyone is hyper focused on that step, but it’s the least important one. What matters is Character, Plot, Theme, Process, Beginnings, Middles and Ends. 

And that’s pretty much it. Have something to say. Work on saying it well. Send it out into the world. Cross your fingers. 

But writing is truly bigger than that, and deeper than that and it reminds me a lot of Rotary. 

The purpose of writing is to tell a story for motivation and engagement. It’s your purpose as a Rotarian

You look into this world, the one we are living in now,

Beyond our walls, beyond our borders

Within our walls, within our borders

And you know that the incredible exists

Incredible hate

Incredible love.

Incredible need.

And we sit here, the creations of this world of love, this world of pain and hate, of guns and bombs, of poets and artists and Rotarians

And our hearts scream for goodness

And our brains long for logic

And ours and others bodies break and mend and break again.

We are the creation of the world of stories around us, a world of the incredible.

And our children are too.

And This leads to more questions and wonderings about both the people we work with and About ourselves

What does it mean to find story when you are the one who is oppressed?

What does it mean to find story when you are the one who is barely surviving in your own life?

When your mother cries to sleep every night because she can’t find a job, pay bills, fix the furnace. 

What does it mean to find a story full of magic when you are dying for magic in your own life?

When your body doesn’t work the way other kids’ bodies work? When your body gets used in ways it is not supposed to be used? 

When people make fun of your clothes, your sex, your gender, the way you say your s’s, the shade of your skin, the curl in your hair, your last name, your first name, the way you see letters backwards, the way you see or don’t see at all, the way you learn, the way you love?

What does it mean when there are these stories out there – these magical truths – these enchanted people and places when you are just barely managing to survive? 

It means there are tiny life lines. 

It means there are little pieces of help. 

That’s what Rotary’s story is and that is what children’s books are about. 

Story is powerful. We’ve know that for forever.

Books are burned and banned because people fear them. 

Books are powerful because they are (as Ben Howard sings) information wrapped up in empathy, they are reflections of our world as it is, how it was and how it should be.

And people fear that. 

The world of fantasy is a world within books and without and the evil creatures that kids meet in these books? 

The only difference for some of them? 

The only difference is one is on the page and one is in their house. 

The only difference is one is in a book and one is in their street, their church, their classroom, their playground.

Monsters and heroes are everywhere. Fantasy novels just make those monsters and heroes bigger, the stakes seem higher when you are fighting a dark wizard or the god of war. 

Books and Rotary offers hope. They show us that there are other ways of living. There are lives and worlds greater than our own and if these lives can imagined, what does it mean about our own lives? It means we can reimagine our lives, too. 

My father was the truck driving son of a communist stock broker.

As a toddler, my father stood on the streets of Staten Island passing out political pamphlets that he couldn’t read. People spat on him for views he could not even read. They threw his pamphlets in puddles, in horse excrement in his face.

He never made it past fourth grade.

He was the smartest man I ever knew. 

He could read people’s souls, understand their stories, their sorrows and explain to you about quantum mechanics.

But he thought he was dumb.

All his life.

Because he couldn’t read. 

Sometimes, I get so sad because I think of all the things he could have become if he could read a bit better.

Knowledge Empowers Us to Want to Help

That knowledge only makes me want to work harder for all the kids I write for. I want them to have the ability and story that my dad didn’t get to enjoy

And that knowledge, I know, does the same to you. 

The thing about Rotarians and writers is that we can’t be “contained.”

We have to sing out our stories, sing out our advocacy, give voice to the powerless, because our hearts… our hearts won’t let us be quiet.

We are the people who protect the enchanted, until they can protect themselves. 

We are the ones who say – You are the girl in the story who will one day save this world. We say –  you are the boy who will rid us of the monster beneath the bed. 

It’s our responsibility. We must lift as we climb. We must lift as we teach. We must lift as we write and as we live and as we flip pancakes.

It doesn’t always happen that way

I was in the 7th grade, when a teacher told me,

“Carrie, you will never become anything with those s’s. Nobody will ever take you seriously because of those s’s. Nobody will ever hire. Nor love a girl who sounds like you.”

He made me afraid of my own voice.

He took away my heart. He took away my story.

A writer’s job is to build worlds for children that reflect possibility and magic. We are to make the best worlds we possibly can, piece by piece, word by word, symbol by symbol.

We are to put our souls in them. So that the kids can grab on and soar. If the boy wizard can survive. So can I. If the girl can stop time. So can I. 

So can I. 

Kids need to know that there is darkness around them, that this world is incredible, but that they are enchanted. That they can overcome what they need to overcome. That they can not only survive, but that they can light up the world with their magic. 

So can I.

So can they.

So can you.

Stories create potential outcomes. 

We have to expand worlds, not shrink them. We have to include and empower. We have to open our mind and our hearts as writers and teachers so that there are possibilities and hope. 

Let me tell you why I am a writer. I write because I want to make connections. I write to try to understand the world and help kids or adults understand it too. 

The Marathon

I went to the Boston Marathon to cheer on my friend Lori who was running to raise money to fight cancer the year of the bomb. I walked and set up for taking pictures. I didn’t expect to see Lori for an hour, so I hung out with some people from New Jersey, talked to some cops. I took some pictures and kept wondering if I should walk the rest of the route to get ready for when Lori crossed the finish line. Logically, I knew I should, but my gut kept me back. One of my friends called, and as we talked the first explosion went off.

“What was that?” he said.

“That was bad,” I answered. “It was an explosion. It was absolutely an explosion.”

Then the second explosion happened. And I hung up. And I looked at the cops. And the cops both lifted up their portable radios to their ears. That was not a good sign. Then they began to run towards the finish line along a parallel road. That was a worse sign, especially since one of the cops looked like he never ran. Ever.  

I followed them. It smelled of smoke. It smelled of fear and confusion. Cops and medics and volunteers swarmed the area. Blood pooled on clothing and the ground. Debris was everywhere. People were crying and hysterical. The police turned me around.

So, I turned around. I regret that now. I don’t know how I could have helped. I am not a trained emergency medical technician. I regret that, too.

So, I went back to where I had been taking pictures. Runners were wandering around still, confused, cold. They had a combination of runner’s fatigue and shock. Shivering and stunned, they were desperately trying to contact family members. Some walked in circles because they didn’t know how not to keep moving, but they also didn’t know where to go. They had spent 25 miles moving forward, towards this one destination called the finish line and now they were stuck, aimless. Their ultimate goal was suddenly gone, devastated by two bombs. Those of us who were there to watch, gave them our cell phones so they could call family members who were waiting for them. They were waiting for them right by the bombs. We gave the runners money so they could get on the T when it worked again. We gave them our coats.

“How will I give it back to you?” one runner asked as she shrugged on a dark green fleece.

“You don’t need to. You never need to,” a man next to me told her.

“I have to,” she murmured. “I have to.”

I gave away my coat. I passed around my phone.

One woman said, “Please tell me it wasn’t the subway. My kids are on the subway.”

“It wasn’t the subway,” I tell her. “It was the finish line.”

She cocked her head. “What? No? How?”

That was the question: How? We knew by then that it was probably a bomb, and the hows of making a bomb are easy, but the ‘how could you” is a harder question. 

“How?” she kept saying. “How?”

And then the police moved the runners out, they told us, the watchers, to go. So, we left, a massive exodus towards the bridge and Massachusetts Avenue. People were still sobbing. A man on a corner was reading from Boston.com on his iPhone trying to find out exactly what happened. People stood around him, strangers listening to him say the words, “explosions… injuries…”

Three girls were crying, young and scared and broken inside.

“They are so hurt. They hurt them. They are so hurt,” one girl kept repeating. We kept walking.

As I walked across the bridge, a woman on the phone sobbed to her friend, “It was so big. The explosion was so big. I dropped everything in my hands. I dropped my lens cap. I dropped my purse. I dropped it all. I called my sister. I called my friend. I called everyone. I just need to talk to someone. I feel so alone. It was awful. People were missing their legs. It was awful.”

And then she saw me, this talking woman, and I nodded at her and I grabbed her hand and squeezed it. She squeezed back. We kept walking.

A leather-jacket guy next to me was telling another guy in plaid that he had no way home. I gave him my cell. We kept walking.

As I was feeling thankful, a man in front of me went down on his knees on the sidewalk. It looked like he was praying, but he was really sobbing. We all stopped walking. People pat his back. People murmured things. He stood up and we kept walking again. We walked and walked and gradually the crowd thinned, and gradually the sobs lessened.

Life is about connections. 

As writers, we know that we have to connect with our readers. We have to make them care about the characters’ stories. 

And Rotary was built on that need for connection and the need to do good together. 

But the question is, how do we make those connections, those positive connections? Talking about Polio isn’t going to work for everyone.

We make connections by embracing and protecting the enchanted.  We do it by taking chances, by caring, by looking into the eyes of our readers or the people we’re giving wheelchairs to and seeing that spark, that magic, that hope that is there despite this world of the incredible.

We do it by giving ourselves to other Rotarians, readers, people we’re helping, over and over again and expecting nothing in return. 

But we always get something in return – We get connections.

It’s because of those connections and hope that I’m a Rotarian and why I am a writer. It is the only reason that I don’t quit either of those things. 

Content is what you want to say. What does Rotary want to say? What do the clubs want to say?

Craft is how well you say it. How do we help them to say these things? In Toronto, it’s about billboards. In small town Maine? Not so much. It’s about local people and friends inspiring others locally and doing good. 

Contacts are the final step of getting it out there in the world and here we can improve too. But not via email streams and unmotivating newsletters. Not if we want millennials. Not if we want young professionals. 

Our job is to tell the stories, make the stories, protect the Enchanted and realize that the Enchanted our sometimes ourselves.

We can’t give up. Why? Because the world needs good stories when all it hears is bad.


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!


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.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

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

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TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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 hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

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

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

THERE ARE ONLY TWO SPOTS LEFT AND SIGN-UP ENDS JANUARY 18TH.

So 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.

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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!

I was Nominated for Woman of the Year and My Heart is Hitching All Over the Place

My heart hitched yesterday.

This email came that I was nominated for the local YWCA’s woman of the year. I stared at it.

And stared at it.

And stared.

I know this might not be a big deal to some people, but me? I flipped out.

It had been a weird rollercoaster day. I signed with a new agent of awesome. I traced down the smell of dog poop to Gabby’s front paw and managed to pry the smooshed and stuck poop out of those giant doggy paw pads five minutes before I had to go lead a Rotary club meeting.

It was disgusting. I had to bleach floors.

I made a resume.

I ran a meeting.

I did all my writing work.

I figured out what I was going to say at a breakfast Rotary meeting the next day that started at 7 a.m. and was three hours away.

I cleaned a toilet.

But that email? It kept resonating.

That email meant something big inside of me – something so big that I couldn’t even talk about it for 24 hours.

“People can nominate women of all ages who make a difference in this community,” said Jackie Davidson, executive director of YWCA MDI. “You can nominate anonymously as well. We want as many women as possible to be recognized for what they do to make our community a better place.”

Make the community a better place.

That email made my heart hitch, the same way that selling my first piece of art made my heart hitch. I know I won’t win and that’s totally fine. Someone awesome will. But the thing is.. someone thought I deserved this.

That means so much to me.

Why it means so much

I grew up poor.

There’s no getting around that.

My mom tried really hard to pretend we weren’t poor. She tried to hide it from everyone, including my much older brother and sister who grew up 15 years earlier than me in a  much nicer working class reality. But when I came around we were poor.

My nana stood in food lines to get us commodity cheese because my mom wouldn’t do it herself because she was too ashamed. Credit card companies and collection agencies would call constantly. I was taught early on to lie on the phone when I answered it and say my mom wasn’t home if it wasn’t my sister or one of my aunts calling.

We had a typewriter, not a word processor, not a computer. Every time I had to get clothes, I’d feel full of guilt. It didn’t help when one of my older siblings taunted me for my quirky style. Goodwill sometimes makes you have a quirky style.

As a child, we would go to my wealthy uncle and aunt’s house for gatherings with their friends. Their friends were senators and doctors, people who worked for WHO, people who helped create the measles vaccine, documentary filmmakers who headed AIDS awareness efforts. I remember looking at their fancy clothes and listening to them and being both inspired and terrified.  They placed napkins in their laps. They kissed people on both cheeks. They made eye contact when they talked, and they used different forks for different things.

They were all kind to me. That wasn’t it. But I knew that I didn’t know how to play by their rules. I went to a window seat that looked out on Lake Winnipesaukee. There was a bookshelf at the end of the seat and in that bookshelf was an etiquette book full of how to eat at the table, what manners were, how to write ‘thank you cards,’ exchange greetings, and so on. It was a beautiful summer day. All the other kids were swimming and playing tag. I was reading and memorizing and trying to learn how to be like the others.

Getting Called Out

Eventually my Aunt Maxine noticed that I was sitting there, reading.

“Carrie. What are you doing? Go out and play,” she said. She liked to use people’s names a lot. She also was sort of bossy in a nice way.

I was afraid of bossy, but I also loved my aunt so I said as bravely as possible, “I’m reading.”

“Don’t you want to go swim with the other children? They’re all outside getting sun, having fun.”

They were. They were splashing around in the water, doing cannonballs off the dock, or perfect dives. They had perfect bathing suits from L.L. Bean and every single one of them seemed to know how to play tennis.

She took the book from me and read the title. After a second, she sat down on the bench next to me. “What are you reading this for, Carrie?”

And I said, “Because I want to be better.”

“Be better! That’s ridiculous. You’re wonderful as who you are.”

“I want… I want to fit in.” I looked her right in the eyes and she got it. I knew she got it. She understood all the things that I couldn’t figure out how to say.

She handed me back the book. “I will make a deal with you. You read this for another half hour and I’ll set the kitchen timer. When it goes off, you go play with the other children and get some exercise.”

Nodding, I thought this was okay. “But I might not finish the book.”

“You can finish it after dinner and games.” She pet me on the top of the head. “I’ll bring you the timer.”

I was five.

That book changed my life and so did my aunt and uncle. They realized that there was a social code and a way of being that wasn’t easily accessible for me no matter how hard my mom tried. I was a poor kid in a wealthy town. I was a latchkey kid who was awkward and driven and terrified of failure. Paying for acting lessons, to play on the soccer team, to play piano were huge stretches for us. Sometimes they happened. Sometimes they didn’t.

I want to be better

My aunt and uncle understood my situation and my want because my uncle was the same way. He was the oldest son of a single mom. He pushed himself hard to succeed, to learn the social code of success and wealth. He went to UNH because it was the only place he could afford and he was valedictorian there, desegregating the fraternity system while he was class president. He eventually went to Harvard Law, married Maxine who had so much intellectual stock and prowess it was just ridiculous. He ended up being the head of an international law association, head of a law firm, chairman of the board of trustees at UNH and so many other things.

My little five-year-old self was trying to do the same things as he did. I wanted to make a difference in the world, to make it better.

Somehow. I took the first and only step I could think of taking – reading that book, trying to crack the social codes of behavior that made his friends and him so different from me.

You Aren’t Death

I was in college when he was dying. We had all gathered for one last Thanksgiving. There were tons of people there, the same kind of brilliant, world-changing people that were there when I was five and when I was ten and when I was 15. My mother and my nana were barely able to sit still because they were so overwhelmed with Dick’s impeding death. They’d have to leave the room every time someone mentioned his name.

During dinner, Maxine called them into his bedroom with her. They stayed for about two minutes and left sobbing.

“He’s too tired,” Maxine said at the threshold of the hallway that led to those bedrooms. “He needed them to go.”

But then, a minute later, she called for me. “Dick wants to see you, Carrie.”

I remember pointing at my chest. “Me?”

“Yes.”

“He’s not too tired?”

“No,” she said. “Not for you.”

There was a bit of a murmur at the table because Uncle Dick wasn’t really calling for anyone to come see him. He was barely holding on.

She ushered me into a back bedroom that wasn’t their normal place to sleep. The wooden walls were dark because the shades were drawn. There was only one bedside light on. My uncle was thin and his breathing was so heavy. It seemed like there were a million blankets layered on top of him.

He met my eyes as I came to his bed and sat on the edge of it, ignoring the chair.

“Everyone sits in the chair,” he rasped out.

“I wanted to be close to you.” I grabbed his hand.

“Nobody wants to be close to death.”

“You aren’t death. You’re my uncle.”

We were quiet. The weight of his hand in mine seemed like nothing and everything all at once. I think he might have fallen asleep, but I sat there thinking about how beautiful he was, how elegant, how he changed systems of injustice one at a time, as best he could, how he taught himself Japanese, how to play the organ, how to be wealthy, how to fit in with an entire class of successful people that he wasn’t born to, and how he and my aunt Maxine both tried to lift other people up into that class with them.

He opened his eyes. “Carrie, I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Will you pick it up?”

There was only one answer.

“Yes,” I told him. “Yes.”

It was the last thing he said to me. He fell asleep again. We left for home. I left for college. And since then, I have spent years trying to figure out how to make my words to my uncle not be a lie. How to meet the challenge of his life so well lived.

How to pick up that damn gauntlet.

And I know I’m not doing enough.  It’s hard to motivate other people. Sometimes it’s hard to even motivate myself.

I have a friend who recently said to me, “You do so much volunteering. I don’t. I can’t. I’m a selfish person. I want to make money.”

And I didn’t know what to say.

I still don’t.

I have only succeeded as much as I have because people were willing to let me read a book, to be examples of goodness, to give me the opportunity to interact with senators, opera singers, doctors who have saved thousands of lives. Humiliation and exclusion are not what we should aspire to. Inclusion and praise are not things to be afraid of giving to other people. Enjoying other people’s successes and happiness doesn’t make you any less likely to succeed.

That’s why a nomination for making a difference means so much to me. And to have it be at a YWCA event? The YWCA that’s all about empowering women and fighting oppression? That means even more.

Aunt Maxine and Uncle Dick told me throughout my childhood that intelligence was a privilege I was born with. It could be cultivated and expanded on, but what was the most important thing was finding a way (or many ways) of using that privilege (intelligence, class, race, gender, being physically fit, and so on) and using it to better other people’s lives, your own life, the world not in a way that makes you a hero but in a way that makes you a friend.

Yes, we need to take care of ourselves (thus being selfish), but we also need to not live in bubbles – to see where our language and our rules, our so-called ‘cultural norms’ can be a code that even five-year-olds realize doesn’t include them.

I don’t know how to fix this, but I know we all have to try. I was so lucky to have an Uncle Dick and Aunt Maxine. Not everyone is. And when you feel excluded because of economic, racial, gender, religious codes? How can you not hurt?

I’ve tried to pick up the gauntlet by being friends, writing books, and I’ve even tried to be a politician. I’ve tried by how I raised my daughter, by being on boards, on fighting against bullying, for literacy, against domestic violence, by promoting diversity in children’s literature.

It doesn’t feel like enough.

Honestly, it feels like nothing, like I am barely touching the surface of need, of change.

Part of why I’m in Rotary International, and even why I decided to be the volunteer Public Image Chair for a huge part of Canada and the United States is because this organization of 1.2 million people are picking up the gauntlet, over and over again. From helping to eradicate polio (one vaccine and one fundraiser at a time) to building a local playground or a creating a book festival, Rotary grabs that gauntlet. The only difference is, they do it together.

How are you picking up the gauntlet? How do you feel excluded? Included? I’d love to know.

If you could nominate one of your friends for helping her community, who would you nominate as a woman of distinction? Tell her. It will mean everything. I promise you.

 

*I’ve posted pieces of this before, I think. I’m not sure. But it’s my story and I want to make sure I remind myself of it a lot – of how grateful I am to have a story and for the people in my life who have been so good to me. I hope you have those people too.

Writing News

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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

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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?

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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!!!! 

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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.

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.

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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?

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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.

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Love is Um… Flying on an Airplane to Chicago for Rotary International?

Today, I’m in an airplane heading to a regional leader training for Rotary International, which is this global group of 1.2 million professionals who take action to make change int the world.

They have weekly meetings usually.

They make friends. Here are pictures of me with friends at Rotary.

They do good things with each other and for others. Sometimes we look like dorks doing it, but that’s okay.

I’m the public image coordinator for Zone 24 East, which is the eastern half of Canada and parts of the northern United Staes.

So, because I’m in a plane and don’t have a ton of time, here’s your do good Wednesday post:

Check out this video from Rotary. Check out its links. Thank a Rotarian for committing time to make a positive difference in the world. Even if you can’t join Rotary, your thanks will mean a lot to that Rotarian. I promise. And thank YOU for reading this blog.

 

PERSONAL APPEARANCES

I’ll be hanging out at the launch of THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID on March 15th and having  a panel discussion with editor Erin Moulton, Aaluk Edwardson and Ella Andrews at Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, NH. 7pm!

“How to describe the feeling of not being believed? It is the feeling of disappearing.” -Stephanie Oakes

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PODCAST AND BOOK NEWS!

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

In my big writing news, the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is live!

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LIVE!

Please go leave a comment, or a review, and pretend to listen, because I’ve been freaking out about this so hard. It’s on iTunes and Stitcher and Castos at the moment and the RSS feed is also here. The feed has bonus material and free things. It’ll be on GooglePlay if I can ever get the screen to validate to not be just a big webpage of blankness.

 

Imposter Syndrome – You Kick Butt. Believe It.

My imposter syndrome is about a society where truth is never good enough because truth is not pretty enough. My imposter syndrome is about a society where people ridicule your heart, your kindness, your vulnerability and other people applaud that.

So, for my Wednesday Writing Wisdom post, I’m going to partially reblog something from 2016 with some new content because I still deal with this monster all the time.

What is this monster?

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Not Marsie the Cat.

 

It’s Imposter Syndrome

 

How I Battle Imposter Syndrome

 

So, recently I was having a big period called, “I Suck At Everything.” It’s pretty much a variant of the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.

 

What is imposter syndrome? It’s when you feel like everyone is suddenly going to realize that you are:

 

  1. A big fraud.
  2. You suck
  3. Basically a big, sucky fraud that’s about to get called out by the YOU TRULY SUCK YOU LYING FRAUD PATROL WHO HAVE EXPRESSIONS LIKE THIS

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And lots of amazing people have Imposter Syndrome. What kind of amazing people? People like Maya Angelo who has said,

 

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”

 

So, yeah, Maya Angelou, THE Maya Angelou has it, which kind of only makes mine worse because I think, “Um… I’m not that cool. I’m not even worthy of having imposter syndrome.”

 

This is even though I logically know that I’ve been on the NYT bestseller list, some of my books were bestselling books in other languages and I’ve even received awards for writing and I get happy reader email. And even though I just looked up “Carrie Jones Quotes” and found all these things I said that someone put to pictures/photos.

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(Yes, I did just google myself). My mom always used to google me, but she’s dead so I can’t rely on her to tell me things about myself – or all the other Carrie Joneses in the world – any more.

 

Anyways, here is the thing:

 

Logic does not matter when you have imposter syndrome.

 

Some people think imposter syndrome comes from feeling like you’re more important than you actually are. This might be true for others, but – ohmyfreakingword – seriously? I barely think I am doing anything halfway good enough to make this world a tiny bit better. This is so not my problem. It’s totally okay if it’s part of yours though.

 

My personal imposter syndrome is linked to my I DO NOT DO ENOUGH syndrome. For instance if I don’t make a TO DO LIST and strike things off each day, I will feel like I accomplished nothing all day. If I accomplish nothing all day, I hate myself, feel guilty, and go to bed depressed. So, I always try to make to do lists like this:

 

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This visual representation, PLUS the advice of a friend on Facebook (Yes, they do exist), made me realize that I had to do the same thing with my imposter syndrome. I had to start collecting visual evidence to convince myself that I don’t completely suck.

 

I remind myself that I have been called out before and I have survived. As someone connected to our local, mostly volunteer fire department, I witness our community come together a lot. It is a beautiful and glorious thing to see firefighters leave their families, dinners, jobs and go out and help other people. I blogged about this. A large, pedantic man caught me off guard less than a week later and berated me for writing schmaltz. That schmaltz was my heart.

 

I was devastated. I was irate. I survived.

 

I try to remind myself of all the things I have survived, sleeping in a car, witnessing a terror attack, sleeping with the enemy, massive amounts of seizures, assault, in order to realize that people thinking I’m a fraud? Calling me out for sucking? It will hurt. It does hurt. But it can be overcome. Other people have overcome so much more.

 

Reminding myself of the bad things that I’ve survived isn’t something I like to do, because I don’t want those things to define me. I don’t let them define me. But sometimes, it’s good to realize that being a survivor is something I can be proud of.

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Some people have imposter syndrome that comes from comparisons. They see someone else doing awesomely (In the book world, a prize, a list, an invitation to a conference) and think, “I suck because that is not me.”

 

Mine doesn’t work that way.

 

Mine is about fear not about envy. Mine is about the fear that I will be ridiculed for who I am and how I think. Mine is about the fear that my abilities are not enough. (Honestly, I can barely tie my shoes because my mechanical skills are so awful.) Mine is about being so poor that you don’t know how you’ll survive, about pain from being betrayed, about being hurt physically,  about public ridicule because of your political views or decisions, about cognitive degeneration, about not fitting in because you grew up outside of what society’s norms are. My fear is about things that have already happened to me and I don’t want to happen again.

 

My imposter syndrome is about exposure even when I have already been exposed, which is why I am doing a podcast, “Dogs are Smarter Than People.” I am facing that fear.

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My imposter syndrome is about a society where truth is never good enough because truth is not pretty enough. My imposter syndrome is about a society where people ridicule your heart, your kindness, your vulnerability and other people applaud that.

 

My imposter syndrome is about fear.

 

That’s all it is.

 

Fear.

 

So I remind myself with my notebook that I have had  joys, that I have had tiny, kind interactions, where I have touched other people’s stories and gotten to glimpse at their truths and their lives and how amazing is that? It is amazing.

 

My notebook is to remind me that no matter what happens in the future, I have had those moments, been blessed by them, and lucky. It’s to remind me that you can’t be an imposter when all you are doing is being yourself. Your self.

Go be yourself, people.

Go write your stories! The world needs to hear them.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

Do Good Wednesday – 

My Rotary Club and the Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival are co-sponsoring this Story Trail in Bar Harbor that we hope to get up and running this year. It’s a lot of building and planning. I’m a little freaked out about it, honestly, because I think I’m in charge.

It’s 16 story stations spread out around our town. Each station has a two-page picture book spread. You follow a map and read a book, which promotes literacy, being outside, and getting some exercise. Plus, it’s for kids, which is super cool. It requires a lot of planning, building, and consensus-building, but it’ll be worth it, right?

Tell this introvert that it’ll be worth it.

You should check out Rotary though.

We’re doing this project thanks to our club’s money from fundraising and a district grant, but what Rotary does is get community leaders from all around the world (1.2 million) together to take action and make positive change in the world and their local communities. This can be in big ways or small ways. All ways matter. This Wednesday maybe we can all think of tiny things we can do to help someone else or promote something awesome.