Mid-Life Crisis or Breaking Out of Our Comfort Zones? You Decide.

As I started down the cobblestone path towards the cruise ship tender line, pushing a bright blue book cart, one of my friends sat in an Acadia Gem, these cool rentable cars. We aren’t close friends, but I’ll call her that anyway because I wish we were closer because she’s funny and smart and real.

“You guys with the band?” she teased, nodding at Shaun who was carrying boxes and me, pushing a bright blue cart with boxes on it.

“Um . . . no? I wish? Party all the time, all night every night?” I offered like the dork I am. I think I possibly did a band hand sign for love or something because that’s my level of social awkward.

Shaun, being Shaun said with his I-used-to-be-a-cop voice, “We’re starting a store.”

And he kept on walking.

I, however, stayed to explain a little bit about our really really small retail space, and she looked at me and wisely said, “Are you having a mid-life crisis? You’ve started a news blog. You’re selling your art. A new podcast and now a store?”

I did not tell her that we have two other ventures we’ll be starting this year, too. Instead, I stared at her and offered, “Maybe?”

The view from the back of our little shack

Maybe?

Maybe my need to make sure I don’t go bankrupt and always have an income is just a mid-life crisis that I’ve been having since I was fifteen?

I explained that in four years, Xane (our kiddo) will probably be out of high school (if they get to go to high school), and Shaun and I will be free to wander, and we really want to wander, to explore the world, the way she and her husband did for a couple years. I told her how seeing their travels and posts made us realize how much we wanted to do that too. That she and her husband were an inspiration.

That might be a mid-life crisis or it might be the American way, trying to find something—anything—a little more stable that allows you to be a little more free, to find that work-life balance before life is gone.

Last Friday I had a vague mopey post and so many of you were super kind about it even though I didn’t explain. It was because one of my relatives died (not a super close one, there’s more about it on LIVING HAPPY, my blog), but it shook me. This life is so short. So short even when it’s long.

So, yes, it’s time to take risks even though they stress me out and scare me. We’ve got to live with kindness and purpose. We have to believe in other people and ourselves even when it’s terrifying. And hope.

We always have to hope.

And we also always have to remember that even in something like a Facebook post, we might be inspiring someone else to make chances, to do things, to live. ❤

The actual back of our little shack

We’re also just launched a new podcast called DUDE NO. It’s true crime. It comes out on Tuesdays. This last episode is about a case Shaun helped solve a few years ago, about a man whose life and identity was stolen from him because of greed.

And we have LIVING HAPPY, a a newsletter/blog for people who want to know how we manage to live happy despite all the crap that is happening in our lives. A good place to start there is this one: “No More Hiding Who We Are.”

So, I’m teaching another cool six-month class at the Writing Barn in Austin. It’s a pretty fantastic place. And the class is super fun. I’ve had a ton of students get unblocked and get published and get awards and things. It’s a lovely community. You should check it out or just come hang out with me as your writing coach. I offer a ton of different options.

Risking being bruised and misunderstood. Audre Lord and writing

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.

Audre Lord wrote that in a paper she delivered at Modern Language Association’s “Lesbian and Literature Panel,” Chicago, Illinois, December 28, 1977. It was first published in Sinister Wisdom 6 (1978) and The Cancer Journals (Spinsters, Ink, San Francisco, 1980). It also appeared in Lord’s book, Sister Outsider (  Freedom, California: Crossing Press, 1984 ).  


I wonder how often writers self-censor for fear of being ‘bruised or misunderstood.’ I’m thinking not just of books and thinking of how scary it is for me to read random reviews. Even though they are almost all great reviews, there’s still that wound that comes sometimes.

But I’m also thinking about how the best books resonate with an author’s truths. The best books have something underneath the surface and that something is what an author believes.

So, basically, this has also made me think about what is most important to me.


There’s so many things that are important to me, but I think one of them is what Lord calls “barriers to loving.” She calls racism, sexism, heterosexism and homophobia types of human blindness. Human blindness is the “inability to recognize the notion of difference as a dynamic human force, one which is enriching rather than threatening to the defined self.” **

I love that quote. I mean, I really, really love it. 

I’m sure she’d include classism in that mix as well. But how about the differences in political thought? In abstinence education? In forgiveness theories? There are so many kinds of differences. There are so many different belief systems, not just within our country or in the world, but just in our county, just in our town. I’m not sure if I’m always as upfront as I could be about what I believe, and it’s got to be fear that holds me back sometimes. 


What about you? 

What do you believe?

Do you write your truths? If you aren’t a writer, do you live your truths? Speak them? Or are you afraid?

** First published in The Black Scholar, vol. 9, no. 7 (1978) and later in Sister Outsider

WRITING NEWS

THE NETHERLANDS IS AWESOME

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman. 

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best. 

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Why You Should be Vulnerable in a World of Trolls

Last week, I got the first pass proofs of ESCAPE FROM THE BADLANDS, the third book in the TIME STOPPERS series.

I am afraid of pass proofs.

But they are still super cool.

Why am I afraid of them?

Well, they come after the copy edits, so even if you suddenly realize that having your main character fall in love with a bottle of ALL NATURAL SNAPPLE ICED TEA was important to the plot of the book, you can not magically make this happen now. It is too late!!!!

 SnappleIs it ever really too late to make SNAPPLE an important plot choice/love interest? I doubt it.

Yes, Snapple! It is too late.

Why is it too late?

Well, the first pass proofs are really what the book is going to look like on the page. It’s sort of all set and ready to go.

And that’s scary. Your book baby is ready to go off into the world of anonymous reviews and bookstore shelves, and there is nothing you can do now to toughen her up, make her street smart. She will be out there on her own very very soon and you just have to pray she won’t be a train wreck and become the kind of book that the paparazzi take pictures of because she’s always forgetting to wear her underwear when she gets out of cars.

And all of this made me think about vulnerability.

Because writing a blog, a book, a podcast, creating art, any type of true communication and art is an act of expression and it makes you vulnerable. And this world? This world is currently full of people who attack others. Some of those attacks are horrific and visible. Some are hidden.

So, why do it? Why do anything?

Because if you don’t, the trolls win.

Because if you don’t, fear wins.

Because for every troll attacking you, there is someone who needs your story and your voice. That’s why.

This is why you should still be vulnerable despite the evil in this world. Ready?

Vulnerable People are Leaders

People who lead need to connect to others. Vulnerability and authenticity are ways of connection, ways that we break out of our comfort zones and reach for bigger, better things.

Vulnerability Helps Others

Almost every time I blog or post about something that isn’t considered cool, (Having epilepsy, growing up poor, sleeping in a car, being assaulted), people tell me that I’m inspiring. I sure don’t ever feel inspiring. At all. And I have a hard time accepting that compliment, but… I appreciate that kindness because it means that it means those people are getting something positive out of my life or what I’m saying.

Plus, how cool is it that they took the time out of their lives to deliberately say something kind and supportive.

Honestly?

Can there be a bigger gift than hearing that you’ve helped someone else? Somehow? Even though you were just being you.

 

Vulnerability Is Contagious

Being brave and exposing yourself and your truth? It helps others be brave. Sure, it can backfire. When I first posted about my daughter being worried about me going to the Boston Marathon, trolls said my daughter (who is a Lt in the Army) must be a terrorist and have known about it or else why would she be worried about me. Yep… They actually went there.

And that’s the thing. You never know when someone is going to attack you or what for, but you can’t let that fear of evil suppress your voice, your story, your thoughts or your truths.

Silence is oppressive.

But vulnerability? It’s contagious.

Telling your story gives strength to others who haven’t been able to tell theirs yet. Facing your demons helps others to face their own. Isn’t that the kind of infection we want? Instead of a lack of civility and a parade of trolls, how about we work towards authenticity and vulnerability and truth?

A vulnerability contagion…I think that would be pretty cool. So, today’s Wednesday Writing Wisdom is to be vulnerable. No art is any good without it.

Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Do Good Wednesday!

DO GOOD WEDNESDAY

The Human Utility has a water assistance project in Detroit, Michigan, USA, and other cities around the country.

From its website:

Water companies are turning off the tap in cities across the U.S., forcing low-income families, seniors and single parents to live without basic necessities.

Families without water are forced to go elsewhere to take showers, clean dishes and get a drink. Your donation can help turn the water back on.

You can give money, provide services or partner with them.

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.

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!

I’ll be at Sherman’s Bookstore in Bar Harbor on April 28 from 1-2.

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. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

 

COOKING WITH A WRITER

I have 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 six-month-long Writing Barn class that 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. We’ll be having a Zoom class to learn more about it and I’ll share the details as soon as they are official.

Write Submit Support
Look. A typewriter.

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 action School Library Journal

Marsie’s Monday Motivation – Be Vulnerable and Ignore the Dogs

Marsie the Cat: Let’s talk about fear, human.

Me: Again?

Marsie: Yes. Again.

IMG_2357

 

Me: I’m just afraid of so much stuff.

Marsie: You’re afraid of failing, of being vulnerable, of exposing yourself to the world, am I write? Or worse – What if nobody even notices you?

Me: 

Marsie: 

Me: How do you know so much?

Marsie: I am a cat. Therefore, I know all things. Plus, I know about fear. But I don’t care. I live my life. Look at this photo. I am on the dog bed and right there – it is the evidence that the dogs destroy things! That was a perfectly good owl toy and it is dead now. That dog has jaws of steel and could eat me in a second for daring to be on her bed. But do I care? No! I still claim the dog bed. You, human, need to claim the dog bed.

IMG_2329

Marsie doesn’t understand that sometimes it’s hard to claim the dog bed. I wrote about this on Instagram yesterday because I was thinking about my grandmother.

She wrote so many poems and made so many paintings that she never let anyone see.

She couldn’t handle the scorn. But she couldn’t NOT create things.
She was afraid of the ocean, thought it was this massive, beautiful deadly force.

Men can be like that too sometimes, she told me. I don’t know why we are expected to be so strong. Why must we be so strong and vulnerable?

I was like ten when she asked me that so I didn’t have an answer.

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 10.26.04 AM
This painting is inspired by one of her paintings that she left unfinished. I don’t know if she had copied the original or if it was her own, but the woman walking across a realistic earth, approaching the sea all huddled and afraid and then reaching out for the unreal sky makes me think of her. Afraid but reaching out.

I am not an artist. I have absolutely no training at all except for a high school art class, but all I want to do is paint.

I am not a great philosopher, but still I’m compelled to share what I think.

I sound like a muppet and slur my s’s, but still I’m making a podcast and I’m in charge of a really intensive online writing class that forces me to talk on video to 12 people every month. And the whole time I think – I am so afraid to do this. People will hear my voice and laugh (not in a good way).

All these things scare me so much.

And every time I write a book, I think: 

What if nobody reads it?

What if nobody likes it?

But life and creating is all about vulnerability. It’s about saying yes to experiences even though it’s so scary. Yes, just writing a blog post is scary to me because it’s vulnerable.

What is it that makes you vulnerable? 

What is it that makes you scared to say ‘yes’ to things? 

Because here’s the thing: You are enough. You are good enough and real enough and authentic. Your story matters. And if other people don’t see it? Their loss. What matters is that YOU see it.

I’m totally trying to work on this right now. Seriously, all my tweets are about it. The podcast that’s premiering in February is about it.

I hope you’ll work on it with me.

Random website link is here – www.carriejonesbooks.com

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