Lick the Kitten, Embrace Your Vulnerability

Shaun: A week or so ago, someone told Carrie that she’d be better served if she didn’t present as insecure on her social media. 

Carrie: For the record, I am just open about when I’m scared about things. I’m not sure insecurity is the same as fear. I mean, I guess it is to a certain extent. But I’m not insecure about who I am. I like who I am, an occasionally anxious, goofy, smart, creative, quirky, open-book kind of  person. Does that sound like who I am? 

Shaun: Pretty much.

Carrie: Anyways, here’s the thing. You can pretend to be someone you aren’t. You can present any damn way you choose. But that’s it – it’s your choice. Nobody else’s. 

Shaun: And Carrie? She has no problem being vulnerable. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes that the biggest myth about vulnerability is that it is weakness. And that’s possibly what happened with that person’s comment to Carrie last week.

Carrie: To be fair, about once a year a woman writer, usually older than I am, will tell me to present as more confident because I am strong and talented. They are trying to help me, personally, and the cause of all women, too. I think? But I don’t see the dichotomy between strength and vulnerability. They shouldn’t be on opposite ends of a line. 

Shaun: Brene Brown writes, “We’ve come to the point where, rather than respecting and appreciating the courage and daring behind vulnerability, we let our fear and discomfort become judgement and criticism.” 

Carrie: And she also says this, which I think is how it pertains to writers and artists and this podcast, “Vulnerability isn’t good or bad: It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness.” 

Shaun: So vulnerability is writing. Because vulnerability is risk and emotional exposure. And even the act of writing is vulnerable because almost the first thing someone asks you is, “Oh? Have I read you?” It’s like they determine your worth just by whether or not you’ve been on a bestseller list or not.

Carrie: Exactly, but just writing and deciding to create is a risk because it’s not the most financially secure thing in the world, but it also is because once you put your creation out there – unlike the accountant – you are vulnerable via ratings and bad reviews and internet trolls, which is massive emotional exposure. But it’s more than that. Writers have to incorporate emotion and vulnerability on the page. They create characters who are meant to tweak the readers’ emotions. Writers are like the tsars of vulnerability. 

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

You are a writer. You are a human. Embrace your ability to take risks, to be vulnerable. Emotions are not weakness. 

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Allow yourself to lick the kitten in public, adopt those who you love. Be open. Be vulnerable. Love.  

Random Thoughts Included:

  • Carrie’s anxiety about dental surgery
  • Bangor (Maine) City Council Signs
  • Carrie not being dead. We think.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Writing News

Cool Contest of Spooky Awesomeness!

Um. MacMillan is having a super cool sweepstakes where you can win the book I wrote with Steve (IN THE WOODS) and four other scary books.
Go enter! Go win! I’m rooting for you!

In the Paper, Baby

I was just in the newspaper and I think the photo of my head is actually larger than my real-life head. Go figure. It was super kind of them to notice me and to write about me. Here is the link.

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN! 

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

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! 

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

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

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. 

Last WEEK’S PODCAST

Today’s Podcast Link if you can’t see it below or at the top of this post.

Lick the Kitten, Embrace Your Vulnerability

 
 
00:00 / 00:23:12
 
1X
 
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Writing simple can be complex

So lately I’ve been thinking (Amazing! I know!) about what it is to be an individual, and how as writers we can create individuals who mirror real life truths on our page.

“An individual is someone who cannot be neatly classified or categorized because he or she cannot be easily dissected or analyzed, divided into definable parts. The individual is, first and foremost, a being-unto-itself, a unique whole

Kevin L Stoehr, “You Who Philosophize Dylan” 

The problem is that people are hopefully complex, yet often in writing there’s this overall simplification of story and character that does not mimic that complexity. It seems like corporate media America has decided that people want simple things, which is fine, as long as there are also complex things to balance out literature, particularly children’s literature. And we all buy into it.

M. T. Anderson talks about something pretty similar in an interview with Joel Shoemaker in VOYA back in 1999.

But maybe that drive towards the simple is something that we should make little rebellions against. Maybe instead of following the grade-school description of what a story and genre should be, we should be fiddling around with that description.

Maybe instead of simplifying our characters we could expand them, make them more complex than hairstyles and clothing choices, than ‘good girl,’ ‘good boy,’ ‘bad child.’ And I’m not talking about giving the evil villain one redeeming quality, I’m talking about giving the evil villain a complex identity. 

Making Things Predictable

 When my daughter Em turned 13, she had one major gripe with the books she read. She said that most plots are too predictable. She said that most characters just have one defining trait, and well, that bored her.

 I’m just worrying that maybe we should be putting some emphasis back on complex stories and characters for the big-time readers who are losing their faith in books. I’m not saying to rid ourselves of the simple stories, I’m just saying we should embrace the complex, too. 

I guess, I’m just worried that in our surge to make lots of money by reaching massive audiences we are making out stories too simple, our genre choices too straight forward.

And we fall into traps because we’re so afraid nobody will buy or understand our books. We don’t want to scare off readers with something difficult to read. We want to keep things straight and common, no eccentric teachers, no bizarre-o main characters.  We make sure the character always has a clear want and they go after it. We make sure the main character isn’t too complicated. Some of us follow formulas and plotting rules, and that’s okay. It’s not bad. I just don’t want it to be the only way. And I don’t want the authors who brave themselves up enough to deviate to be blasted.

Someone asked me why I made Belle have seizures in TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex) BOYFRIEND and not have those seizures be an active part of her character development. Okay, first off, I did it because that’s how Belle is. Her epilepsy isn’t about her character any more than having thick hair is about her character. It doesn’t have to be.

It’s only by treating epilepsy as a condition rather than a defining character trait that we can:

  1. lessen the stigma of epilepsy
  2. create a character who is an individual

And obviously this doesn’t just apply to epilepsy. It applies to every condition and physical trait that can cause stigma. But we can’t do this is we make our characters too simple, too one dimensional. It’s only when we make complex INDIVIDUALS that we can really battle stigma and stereotyping and all those things that we don’t want to perpetuate. 

So what I want to know is what happens if we keep making narrative more and more simple. What happens to our minds? What happens to our books? Do we become numb? Do we look sideways at books that aren’t simple? Do we become so used to simple that we start believing it’s complex? And has that already happened? I hope not. I really, really hope not. 

Writing simple can be complex

But there’s another side to things. By making the choice to have a character have hobbies that aren’t necessary to the plot, to quote philosophers occasionally in a romance/horror novel? By making a science fiction origin story, clean and easy to read and focusing on a girl? To make a character have epilepsy but not be defined by it? Those are simple writing choices that can have complex ripples.

Don’t be afraid of the ripples.

Things Referenced

Joel Shoemaker, “Hungry . . . for M.T. Anderson: An Interview with M.T. Anderson,” VOYA 27, 2 (June 2004) 98-102.

“Bob Dylan and Philosphy.” Edited by Peter Vernezze and Car J. Porter. Chicago: Open Court Press, 2006 182-193.

PODCAST

To follow that up, I give you a podcast that talks about writing and poop texts.


WRITING 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?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

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. 


Imposter Syndrome, Again

I was on the #writingcommunity Twitter feed while I was traveling back home yesterday, and I noticed so many people feeling like imposters, worried that they weren’t following the writing ‘rules,’ worrying that they weren’t “real writers.”

It made me sad, honestly.

And it made me remember this post I had awhile ago about Imposter Syndrome, which I’m sharing again with you today.

Why?

Because you’re you. You aren’t fake, damn it. You are real and beautiful and trying. That’s what matters. I wish I could hug everyone out there and say, “Look at how you. You are amazing and shiny. Look at you growing, evolving, trying. What a freaking miracle you are.

You are.

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 

And lots of amazing people have it. 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.” 

Maya Angelou

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. 

(Yes, I did just google myself).

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: 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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’re are doing is being yourself. Your real self. 

Don’t let fear make you an imposter. 

Because you are too good for that. Your story deserves to be told. 


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 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

My YA Fantasy – THE LAST GODS

I’m Carrie Jones, quirky Maine Author, and I want to bring more of my stories out into the world. Most of you who read my blog know that.

That’s what I want. That’s who I am. Making stories and the art to go with them is my favorite thing ever. Even though I’ve been a New York Times-bestselling and internationally bestselling author, the publishing world is slow. The self-publishing world is scary and what I crave is to get to work with my friends and readers in a more constant, interactive way. 

Creating stories and reading them via podcasts and sharing them, my writing wisdom, and my art is a dream. I love doing it. With your help, I can bring stories into the world more often AND pay my health insurance, which is a big deal to me because I have epilepsy. 

The Last Gods is only available on Patreon

The Last Gods

Ericha’s spent her entire high school career taking care of her sick mom, their horses, and making sure that she’s interesting and perfect enough to get out of their small Maine town and into Harvard. 

She risks it all to save an injured deer outside her high school – a major break in the school’s rules – and starts a chain of events that puts her and her friends on the radar of some old gods, ready to battle last time and make the world their own, for good.

Read it only on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/carriejones 

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 HEREthat 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. 

What I’ll Use the Money For

Hosting for the podcast and the website. I need a decent hosting plan to support the podcast and blog so it doesn’t crash when it gets busy. This is horrifying when it happens.
MailChimp. The service I use to email posts out to the subscription list. This fee grows as the email list grows. 

Adobe suite.This costs a ridiculous amount of money every year, but it has great tools for creators and so… I pay for it.

Supplies. Art costs money. WHY? It is one of the great wrongs of the universe that a tube of oil paint costs so darn much. Weird fact about me (One of many): I’m a writer who needs to paint in order to write. 

Me. I really need health insurance. I am living in a terrified state that I’ll have a seizure someday and bash something or break something, plus I need to continue to eat food, I guess, and feed the dogs and the cat and the gecko. 

Better Podcast Equipment. We need one of those windscreens for the microphone and a pop filter because our b’s and p’s are popping. Also, we’d like to expand into video and for that we need a drone.

The Levels Available – SO MANY CHOICES!

HEAR MY BOOK BABY

$1 or more per month 

What is this magical tier? For it, you’ll hear me reading the podcast of my unpublished books, one chapter a week as well as patron-only posts. 

Yes, you have to listen to my goofy voice reading the book, but you get to be a part of it. You’ll get some downloads of adorable dogs being motivational and be a part of the community. And it’s a community where your voice is just as important as someone who donates more than $1 a month. 

So, we’ll send you a link and if you want to you can be part of the ‘inner confidant’ email list of awesome people who I email when I need help or suggestions. Or you can just let us know when I’m  being too naughty or talking about dogs too much.  

And you’ll get a special, magical, ad-free podcast every month where I talk about writing things and life things and be a dork. 

So, for $1 you get to support a NYT-bestselling dork and hear a cool story that the rest of the world doesn’t get to hear. JOIN $1 TIER

READ MY BOOK BABY

$3 or more per month 

Every month, I’ll email you a pdf of all the chapters that I’ve read on the podcast so far.  Yep, words written down into story chapters. How cool is that? 

Honestly, you are an angel and this might make me get all verklempt and cry. But here, you get to be a part of the patron-only feed. We hang there. 

(Plus all previous rewards)JOIN $3 TIER

HOLD ON! SO MANY BOOK BABIES

$5 or more per month 

RANDOM SURPRISE IN SNAILMAIL, 

EARLY PODCASTS, and an AWESOME BOOK RAFFLE 

What the what? 

We’re talking serious money here and you are basically sacrificing a cup of monthly store-bought coffee and that’s a big deal to me. Thank you so much. 

This means you’ll get a random surprise (probably art) in the regular mail (if you’re cool with giving me your mailing address) and be entered into the monthly FREE ALREADY PUBLISHED BOOK RAFFLE where you get a signed book. 

So, here you’ll also get every episode of the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE (my other podcast)  podcast a day early and with no poopy ads. 

Plus all previous rewards, obviously. 🙂 JOIN $5 TIER

REAL BOOK IN THE MAIL, BABY

$10 or more per month 

THANK YOU’S EVERWHERE AND RANDOM MAILED SUPRISES AND A BOOK (In real-printed form)

Wait. This is a really big deal. This makes a huge difference to me and my life and I want to tell you how big a deal it is. 

It is a big (insert strong adjective of your choice) deal. 

So, you obviously get all previous rewards, plus, you’re named in the back of my next traditionally-published bookafter IN THE WOODS (as a thank you for helping me survive); your name in the thank you section of all podcasts after you start supporting, random occasional surprises in the mail. 

And if you support me at this level for 12 months, I’ll send you a free, signed book (of mine) in the mail. JOIN $10 TIER

MONTHLY HANG-OUT, BABY and ORIGINAL ART

$25 or more per month

Are you an investment banker? Heiress? Wow. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Here, you’re invited to a monthly ZOOM hangout where you get to hang out with me (or us) and we’ll chat about whatever you all want and maybe give you a random tour about some aspect of our life. You know you want to see the basement where I make art. The lawn where the dogs poop? 

And you after two months, you can also opt-in to receive a piece of art (the physical kind) that I’ll mail to you.  Plus, all the previous rewards, obviously. JOIN $25 TIER

Virtual Coaching

$100 or more per month 

Cough. This is serious money here. Every episode you get a shout-out and written credit at my website. You have saved my family. We will drink apple cider in your honor! Okay, Shaun will drink Bud Lite. 

You get a half hour of monthly feedback on a private video chat every month (or written feedback if you are shy) if you send me 20 pages of your writing. I’m actually a kick-butt writing mentor. Who knew? You can check out the testimonials on my website. Plus, all the other rewards, obviously. 

And finally, at the end of every podcast, we’ll read your personal sponsorship or dedication message. 

Plus all the previous benefits! JOIN $100 TIER