As writers, how do we give kids hope?

As I struggle to finish the first draft of my new novel before my April 1 deadline, I can’t stop thinking about hope and suffering and how it relates to children’s novels and us as writers. 

Because, seriously, as writers how do we determine how much suffering children can bear to see. Do we want them to see it? 

This is me back when I was a little kid. I hadn’t read THE LORD OF THE RINGS yet. I think you can tell. Please ignore the vest. *cringe* Also, please ignore the uneven bangs. We couldn’t afford hairdressers.

A mother I know had three teens. She thought her youngest, a high school freshman, didn’t know that rape exists. She asked me for books to recommend to her daughter but wanted them to be pure and good. Only pure and good.

I know this kid. Believe me, she knew that rape existed when she was eleven. She knew that sex (in lots of forms) existed. She’d talked about it when she slept over my house and hung out with my daughter. 

But her mom wanted to protect her, keep her from suffering, keep her innocent. 

 This is the Emster. At this point in her life, she has read LORD OF THE RINGS and ANIMAL FARM here, but she hasn’t read SPEAK yet. Can you tell? 

Sometimes a parent will tell me that there are no hate crimes in high schools; yet in a 2007 GLSEN survey 86.2 % of LGBT students reported they were verbally harrassed, 44.1% said they were physically harassed and 22.1 % said they were assaulted. 

This was at school.
This was because of their sexual orientation.

This is Joe, my high school boyfriend and me after the prom. We dated for three years. Everyone thought we would get married. It was that kind of thing. Joe was gay. He is gay. He never told anyone until college. He couldn’t tell and survive. Not then. Even now it’s hard. But back then there were no books for him or for me (the girlfriend of a gay guy). There were no stories of our suffering, no written words that paralleled our lives and would help make us strong.

And those statistics I quoted up there? That’s just suffering kids endure because of sexual orientation. I’m not talking about gender or race or religion or disabilities or even political views. 

And my question is;  As writers, how do we give kids hope?
And my question is:  As writers, how do we show the hellmouth of the world, what Nietzsche called the “innumerable shouts of pleasure and woe” without pushing teens and children into despair? 
And my question is: How can our characters’ suffering give readers hope? 
And my question is: How can we make sure that kids like Joe or me or Em’s friend have the stories that they need to survive?

Because our books are the books they read first; the books that inform them; the books that show through story how they will survive the next 70-80-90 (hopefully) years of the joy and suffering we call life. 

Is it our responsibility as purveyors of craft to think about these things? Or is it just about writing a story? Hopefully, getting said story published and then hopefully seeing that story get five-star reviews and lots of face-out shelf time at the book store. 

E.B. White said, “All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation — it is the Self escaping into the open.” 

So, what is it we want to reveal to the kids who read our books? What is it that we want to reveal to ourselves? 

Man, is it any wonder I’m having a hard time getting this draft done?  Sigh.


WRITING AND PODCAST NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.


I have a new book!

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 

Continue reading “As writers, how do we give kids hope?”
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Losing Brilliance to AIDS

I posted this twelve years ago on WORLD AIDS DAY. It was WORLD AIDS DAY again on Sunday. So I am posting it again.

Back when I was in college someone I adored died of AIDS. He died in December.

This man was brilliant and cool and kind and he made me believe that I was:


1. Smart.
2. Had a responsibility to make the world better.

Believe me, those weren’t easy things for me to believe, and sometimes I have a hard time believing them still.

But this man? This beautiful, brilliant man who died of AIDS complications? He was my example of how you can do it. He grew up really poor with just a mom running the household. He was his class valedictorian in high school and college. He desegregated a fraternity system when that was unheard of. He made the world better. He went to Harvard Law even though nobody else in his close family had even gone to college. His whole life he volunteered and worked and made the world better. He was a lovely father. He was the best kind of friend. He was elegant and passionate and logical.

I miss him terribly.

December 1 is WORLD AIDS DAY. 

Back when he died, I really thought there would be a cure by now. I really thought that the world would ban together and completely fix this. 

AIDS is still a problem. It’s a huge problem. One of many.

Find out more here.

Or here.

There’s a lot of things you can do to make a difference but I guess I’d like to add that the first step is to care.

That’s right.

Just care.

A lot of people died of AIDS. A lot of people still die from preventable diseases. A lot of people die from violence, poverty, hate. I think that we owe it to them to lift up their memories, to live our lives respecting their beauty and their light. I know that I’ll keep trying. I hope you might too.



THIS WEEK’S PODCAST


WRITING NEWS

Continue reading “Losing Brilliance to AIDS”

Writing Without Labels

I was just doing a visiting residency at a great school in Vermont and a seventh grader said to his teacher, “Okay, Boomer.”

Full disclosure: The teacher was thirty-six years old.

Second important detail: The teacher gasped and said, “How old do you think I am?”

The teacher gave me panicked eyes.

The next day the teacher told me that the principal had decided that “Okay, Boomer” was hate speech and that it would be treated as such with swift and severe penalties.

I’m not going to talk about that because it’s Monday morning and I have not woken up yet because … Thanksgiving.

But when I asked that kid later why he called his teacher a Boomer, he said, “He’s just all about his way. He’s old. He thinks he knows who we are.”

We all think we know who each other is. We don’t.

What is a Boomer?

Boomers is a broad category that focuses on one demographic, which is the date you were born. Boomers are part of the generation of births between 1946 to 1964.

I am not a Boomer.

When I visit schools (They ask me. I come. I don’t recruit these visits. Silly people.), I tend to tell kids that your demographics (age, poverty level, religion, gender, sex, race, religion) aren’t what defines you any more than it defines your characters in your stories.

You are who you are because of the things you say, your reactions, your actions, what you do. This is just like the characters in your stories.

Actions Define Us

If you say, “She’s a white woman in her 30s.” You might think of a white woman named Karen who loves Starbucks and Taylor Swift and tends to ask for the manager over the slightest perceived injustice (to her).

But that white woman in her 30s might actually be named Wren and coffee gives her seizures and she is more of a Ani DiFranco fan that a T-Swift person and she would never ask for the manager because she’s got complex social anxiety and conflict aversion.

It’s our actions that define who we are more than our labels. Other people use labels to define who we are. Those other people don’t get to define us. We define us.

Define yourself as someone amazing. You deserve it.

WRITING NEWS

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

Bar harbor arts
Carrie Jones Art

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.

A.S. King is Awesome – Throwback Interview

I love A. S. King. She is brilliant, raw, authentic, and an all-around bad ass when it comes to championing people and moments and writing. I found an interview I had with her back in 2010! That makes me so old, right? But she is too brilliant-adorable for me not to repost it.

Here Goes.

You are now Entering a Time Machine Where A.S. King‘s Second Novel is Coming Out and Hasn’t Yet Become a 2011 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and an Edgar Allan Poe Award nominee for “Best Young Adult Novel.”

Today I am hosting my super awesome friend/writer A.S. King. Here she is in all her awesome pizza-knowledge glory!!! YAY!! I am in BOLD. Amy is not.

Ding dong. Pizza delivery. I’ve got a mushroom, onion and black olive here ...

First, I want to thank you, Carrie Jones (CARRIE JONES!!) for kicking off this blog tour with me. Thank you! It’s hard to think up fun stuff when promoting a book, but Please Ignore Vera Dietz, which comes out TOMORROW, gave me this great idea because Vera Dietz delivers pizzas in the book and I was once a pizza delivery technician too, and so, I’ve decided to go back to my former life for a few months and deliver some cool people some [metaphorical] pizzas.  

Could you please post an embarrassing picture of yourself and explain. it. Please tell me Amy is this picture of embarrassingness typical for you?

I know this looks like a picture of a filthy little boy. But really, this is a picture of me after my first two-week session at summer camp. I can pretty much guarantee you that I hadn’t really bathed in fourteen days, or if I did, I didn’t do a very good job of it. I believe this was the same year as the t-shirt I loved so much I wore it every single day. Also, the year I had a half-eaten apple in my trunk so that when I got home and my mom unpacked it, there were ants EVERYWHERE.

I know I was supposed to post an embarrassing picture, and in ways this is embarrassing, but it’s also kinda cool. Because I loved summer camp and this picture captures what I loved about it. Getting dirty. Soot. Minimal attention to hygiene.


To answer your question–actually, yes. For a little while there on the farm in Ireland, in the months before we got a bathtub or shower, this was pretty typical for me.

You look brilliant and adorable and way cooler than I ever was. So here is question #2: Has anyone ever come to the door dressed in bubble wrap when you delivered a pizza?

No bubble wrap. But I have been greeted by half-naked people, people too drunk to count money, a guy in a Grim Reaper Halloween costume and my favorite, the guy with the gunóno. He wasn’t robbing me. He was just cleaning it, I think. Freaked me out completely. (I was actually robbed at gunpoint a few years later and I think this episode probably had something to do with how I didn’t really take that really-robbing-me guy seriously until he got right up to me and pointed it at my head.) (Don’t worry. I was fine. He got away with about $40. He was wearing nice green slacks. I moved to Ireland where guns are illegal. All worked out.)

3. AMY!!!!! That is so not cool. I’m glad about Ireland though, but that is so not cool! Let’s ask something mellow: What is your least favorite color crayon and why?

Wow. I never thought about this. I mean, I can tell you my #1 favorite color crayon. Periwinkle blue. But least favorite? Hmm. Let me have a look.


[Three weeks pass as Amy goes on a valiant quest to find her least favorite color crayon. During this time she is amazed at how many crayon colors she really loves. Like silver. How cool is silver? Or those cool neon ones they have now? Not a huge fan of the sparkly ones, but the neon ones totally make up for that.] 

Answer: Tumbleweed, hands down. First off, it’s the color of dog poop. Or that dull flesh-colored spandex they use in circus costumes to give the illusion of nudity. Or a beige bra if washed with a load of darks. Sorry Tumbleweed. Nothing personal. You’re just not my thing, man.

Thank you so much for being here and answering three dorky questions, Amy. You’re the best. And your book is, too.

Before I go, I should really tell you a little about my book, shouldnít I?

Cough. Yes! Cough.

PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ is a Junior Library Guild selection for Fall 2010!!

18-year-old Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything. So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone. Will she emerge and clear his name? Does she even want to? 
  

“Brilliant. Funny. Really special.” –Ellen Hopkins, author of NYT bestselling Crank, Glass and Tricks 

Thank you so much Carrie, for having me over to you blog! I hope you enjoy your pizza and the book! You rock! 

Nope. Amy. You rock. Always have. Always will. Especially when covered with 14-days worth of dirt.

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. 

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! 

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. 

Grover and John, Writers’ Inner Cheerleaders and Inner Critics

For those of you who don’t know me, or know that I’m crazy, let me explain about Grover and John.

Sometimes when you are a writer you become paralyzed by fear. 

Come on my dear. Write! Just 1,000 words. You can do it. 

No! No! I couldn’t possibly!

You think you suck. You worry about tiny two-word phrases in reviews that could possibly be negative. You wonder if you are totally unoriginal, if you have anything to say, and even if you do have something to say, why say it?

I CAN’T DO THIS!! is often our writing mantra.

This attitude basically leads to sitting in front of the computer staring, or sometimes throwing yourself on the couch and having a good cry.

To combat this, I’ve enlisted Grover and John Wayne.

Grover is the nice one. He disco celebrates with me. 

Let’s dance, Cawwie!

He occasionally deposits raunchy sexual hints.

Oh, Cawwie. You can do it. Do you want to pet my kitty? 

He makes me feel better and when all else fails we just get totally tanked together and talk about the good times.

I am trying to find a source for this image. If it is yours, please let me know.

Do you remember when your books were on the New York Times bestsellers’ list, Cawwie? That can happen again.

God love you for a liar, Grover.

And then there is John, the Inner Critic.


John is the task masker, the enforcer. He gets out that big gun (Do not say anything sexual, Grover) and gets me to work. 

I mean it kid, I am sick to death of all this whining. 

He tells me not to feel sorry for myself or wimp out. 

Do you really want to deal with this, little woman, huh? You want to have a piece of this? 


Today is a John day. Blah.

Take a look at this, Carrie. It’ll make you feel better. I’m a cookie jar.


Yeah, great John.

But anyway, we all have inner cheerleaders and inner critics, but we tend to pay much more attention to those inner critics, those storylines telling us we suck, we’ll fail, that there’s no point. Those critics? They need to be banished. We need to cultivate and listen to our inner cheerleaders instead.

Why?

Because there is enough negative forces out there in this world that we navigate bashing against us. We don’t need to join them. We don’t need to bash ourselves, too. Often the first step to success in our lives and the first to making lasting positive change in this world, is to embrace the good, the positive, to cultivate it, to grow it in ourselves and others. Spread that. Be your own damn cheerleader and cheer on others, too.

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. 

You Matter. What I did when I felt forgotten.

When I was a little kid, my dad would sometimes to pick me up on Sundays, which was the day he was supposed to see me according to court papers. *

Back then I was one of a handful of kids whose parents were divorced and we’d sort of cluster together in Bedford, New Hampshire, surrounded by McMansions filled with parents where there were two parents and normalcy. This was made super obvious during an assembly in seventh grade where the counselor made all of us kids with divorced parents stand up in front of everyone else.

“There is nothing to be ashamed of,” she told us while everyone else stared.

It was the first time I felt ashamed of my parents being divorced. A kid named Erik stood next to me and muttered the f-word under his breath. This made him ridiculously cool, but it also made me feel better because he thought it was ridiculous, too.

But even compared to them, I knew I stood out because everyone else went to their dad’s for the whole weekend and their dads never actually forgot about them. Not like my dad.

I’d stare out the bedroom window at the long driveway. He was always supposed to pick me up at 10. He rarely picked me up at 10. Sometimes Mom would have to call to remind him. 

“He’s a forgetful man,” she’d say.

He was. He rarely knew the day of the week or people’s phone numbers. But their stories? He would remember those perfectly. 

I’d climb into his beige Ford Escort, horrified that my rich friends might see me in such an uncool car, and he’d hand me the check for my mom and apologize for being late. 

“I didn’t forget you,” he’d say, tearing up. “I’m so sorry. Time got away from me.”

Or sometimes it was, “I didn’t forget you. I forgot it was Sunday!”

Or sometimes it was, “I didn’t forget you. I got to talking to Uncle Kilton.”

My almost-always response was, “Mm. Hm.”

“I don’t want you to feel forgotten.”

He always said this and I knew he meant it, but I did feel forgotten a lot of the time, my poor dad. He tried so hard.

The thing is that it’s pretty normal to feel forgotten or looked over sometimes. 

And there are ways to fight that. I want you to fight that. I want you to realize how awesome you are, which is why I’m blogging this again. It’s not because I’m being lazy – I don’t think – it’s because I really want you to feel okay.

So here’s how to fight that forgotten feeling.

Expand Your Social Circle

If your friends fail to invite you to things enough to feel forgotten. Find new ones. They are missing out on your fabulousness.

Honestly, my poor dad, when this kept happening to me when I was little I found about 800 father figures to fill in. I had teacher-fathers, cousin-fathers, theater-director-fathers, piano-playing-fathers, random-family-friends-fathers, boating-neighbor-fathers, uncle-fathers. So many.

Tell People You Miss Them

Seriously, if you’re missing your friends, tell them. They might be clueless. They might even be feeling forgotten, too.

Realize That Your Important in This World

Yep. You are. You matter to your dog, to your cat, to your ferret. You matter and it’s good to remember that, but sometimes it’s so hard.

What do you do to make a difference in this world? Do you volunteer? Help your parents? Help your kids?

I bet there are more ways that you matter than you realize and when you remember those ways? It’s easier to not feel so forgotten.

Be kind to yourself. The worst is when YOU forget you.

WRITING NEWS

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. 

Aw, Ah, Aah, Awe, or Ah is that Underwear?

Aw, Ah, Aah, Awe, or Ah is that Underwear?

 
 
00:00 / 00:28:27
 
1X
 

None of us are perfect with the grammar, especially not us native-English speakers. We’ve got all these words that mean totally different things but sound EXACTLY THE SAME! 

And today, we here on Dogs are Smarter Than People are going to do things.

  1. Prove that dogs are smarter than people because they don’t have to spell.
  2. Help you all out about a five-some of evil. Yes, I’m talking about Aah, ah, ahh, aw, and awe. 

I know you’ve all seen it on Facebook. Someone you love writes, “Awe (a-w-e) that’s so cutie.”

And you’re like, “No! Agh. I don’t want to be evil and tell them but they are using the wrong spelling here.” 

Let’s get started. 

Aah! Is an interjection. It’s like a giant mosquito as big as a velociraptor is hovering in front of your nose. You are afraid. Aah is what we use for those moments. 

It has a super close relative – Ah! 

Ah is an interjection, too. But this time you aren’t expressing fear; this time you are expressing love, surprise, pleasure, a realization. 

“Ah! I now understand that was not a mosquito but was actually an Amazon delivery drone.” 

And then we have their lovely relative, Ahh.

Ahh is when you get something or you accept something. 

Ahh, I do love you and your way with drones. 

Ahh, this is how the world works, you act like a narcissist on social media and you suddenly have a million followers. 

Let’s move on.

Aw is what most people are meaning when they write ‘awe.’

Aw is when something is super cutie or adorbs. 

Sometimes we use it to show we’re disappointed. Aw! English! You make no sense. 

So, it’s like this: 

Aw, you are the bestest, cutiest Rotary club president ever. 

Aw, your puppy is adorable! 

Aw, that manatee lingere is the best underwear ever! 

Aw, I probably should have realized that I have no chill prior to taking a leadership role and now I’m just sub-tweeting everyone and whining about their underwear. 

And then we have the all-mighty awe. 

Cue God music.

Feeling like you are full of admiration, fear, reverence because of something super big-time like God or manatees swimming nearby or some really amazing underwear? 

This is awe. 

She raised her hands to the sky, overwhelmed with awe as the flying manatee in purple plaid underwear approached. 

At the edge of the Grand Canyon, he grasped her sleeve in awe of the magnificence below them. 

Writer Tip of the Pod

Dictionaries are our friends. Words have meanings. Don’t stress out if you mess up. We all mess up, but try to do the best you can. We’ll be in awe of your mad wordsmithing skills. 

Dog Tip for Life

It’s easy to spell ‘bark.’ Don’t sweat the small stuff. We make mistakes. If you don’t hurt anyone, yourself or end up in jail, it’s probably all good 

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

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. 


I am a distinguished alumna! No… Seriously!

A few years ago (in June) there was a Vermont College of Fine Arts party at American Library Association’s conference that I was completely stressed about? It was at Tami Lewis Brown’s House. Katherine Paterson was there and I had no idea what I was supposed to say if I actually met Katherine Paterson.

I mean, what do you say to someone who wrote THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA?

1. You made me cry
2. You made me make my own fantasy world in the woods in my backyard.
3. No, really you made me sob.
4. Can I have 1/100th of your talent?
5. Gasp! Chortle! Squee!

Well, I did NOT make a fool of myself about Katherine Patterson. And I didn’t avoid the author M. T. Anderson even though he’s so tall I find it intimidating.

And I ended up having to wear my cardigan the whole time because my dress was way too cleavage-y.

How do I know this? I know this because the doorman at the hotel  stared at it and asked if I wanted to hang out. Really. And I am a children’s book author! I am supposed to be not the type of person the doorman thinks he can ask out.

I think part of the problem was I told him I loved him when he ran after the shuttle bus for me. Bad Carrie! Bad! 

Side note: Don’t tell random people you love them even when you do love them in that moment.

Anyway, I went to the party and my hair was flat and I had a cardigan on even though it was 98 degree.

And then… and then…

Katherine and Tami made speeches about the awesomeness of Vermont College. I think Tobin may have too.

And then… And then…

They gave Kekla Magoon of awesome an award for being a distinguished alumna and she cried and was beautiful and I pet her on the back and tried to comfort her while thinking how awesome she is and then….

And then…

I GOT ONE TOO!

Seriously! I don’t know what they were thinking, but I was awarded a plaque and everything and I almost died because I kept thinking, “People are going to take pictures and I am wearing my dumpy cardigan to hide my cleavage AND my hair is flat. Crud. Crud. Crud. Why did nobody tell me?”

But it was amazing.

The whole time I kept thinking that I wouldn’t even be a writer if not for the people at Vermont College and how there are so many amazing graduates who deserved that award, and I kept looking out there in the crowd and seeing those amazing writers, and it was so completely humbling. 

But then I also thought about how terrified I was when I first started at Vermont. Some people were already published. I had barely written one book. I felt – no, I knew – that I didn’t belong and I almost quit that first week because I knew there was no way I could possibly belong there with all those people who had been writing for forever and who knew all the terms like objective correlative and who all the publishing houses, and I knew nothing.

I didn’t believe in myself at all.

Lisa Jahn Clough and Emily Wing Smith and Ed Briant (who said something awesome at a reading to me) then Tim Wynne Jones were the reasons I toughed it out that first semester. I am so very glad I did because Vermont didn’t just make me into a writer it gave me a community of fellowship, of learning and of people who I adore (even if they are tall). 

I am still trying to make it so I can deserve that award. I really am. 

More than that though, I want to make it so everyone can get that kind of dumpy cardigan moment, to get loved and recognized. It might be for running after a shuttle bus. It might be for making a children’s book, but we get to choose who we are, how we interact with the world, who we can be.

I want so badly for everyone to choose empathy, to choose their own power, to choose to make the right choices. I want everyone to feel that love and recognition that I was lucky enough to feel that June.

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

Some Men Aren’t Meant to Wear Scarves, So Be Your Own Style and Don’t Pretend to Be Tom Cruise Or Bieber

Facing Your Fears

I make a big deal about being brave. That’s because I have a lot of anxiety about certain things:

LIST OF BIG THINGS I HAVE MAJOR ANXIETY ABOUT

  1. My voice
  2. Being in videos
  3. Showing art
  4. Dead clowns reanimating.
  5. People I love dying.

Anyway, I’m pretty open about the things that make me nervous and over on Facebook, I’ve been having Be Brave Fridays where I do something that I am uncomfortable about and encourage others to be brave, too.

So, what I’m really uncomfortable about is showing my art. That’s because of a couple things:

  1. It’s really personal
  2. I’m not trained
  3. My mother.

As I told a lovely woman that I met on Friday night, “My mom was amazing, but she had really defined notions of what our family could and couldn’t do.”

The lady said, “Oh, I get this. My mother is the same way. I get this.”

According to my Mother, If we were going to create things, it was supposed to be:

  1. Meat-based meals
  2. Babies.
  3. Writing
  4. Music.

She said to me on multiple occasions when I was little, “Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.”

But I really wanted to draw straight lines and make comics and paintings. I knew there was no point though.

None of us can draw a straight line.

I spent years and years wishing I could draw or paint. I spent years and years wishing I could make images without words.

Not an artistic bone.

When I was divorcing, I gave in and bought paint. I would stay up late into the night, painting. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was the only way I could think to get my emotions out into the world so that they wouldn’t fester inside of me.

It didn’t matter that they sucked because nobody would see them. I would paint over canvasses because I didn’t have enough money to buy more canvas. I would paint on newspaper pages (not a good idea), on the backs of old-fashioned notebooks, on anything.

Not an artistic bone in my body?

It seemed pretty true.

I became a writer and I wrote novels, but sometimes I would still get these images in my head. I would need to get them out.

So, I’d trudge down into the basement and paint.

It’s cold in the basement. The kitty litter box is in the basement. It’s easy to hide down in that basement. I hid.

Sometimes when I get stuck in a story, or can’t work out its theme, I paint.

Sometimes when I get lost inside my emotions, I paint.

A woman said to me on Friday, “You wrote all these books, too? I have never met anyone who is good at both before.”

And I laughed and was all self-disparaging and said, “You still haven’t.”

She gave me a look and said, “Oh, honey. Yes, I have.”

Oh, honey. Yes, I have.

Even writing that now? It makes me get all teary-eyed.

Painting is the places inside of me where I can’t make words work, where I can’t get things to express themselves via writing, so I have to go deeper.

There are places that are deeper than words.

It’s hard to show that to the world especially when:

  1. You haven’t been trained
  2. Nobody in your family can draw a straight line
  3. There’s not an artistic bone in your body.
  4. You live in a world where being vulnerable and authentic is often derided and scorned.

I started Be Brave Fridays because I was tired of hiding. I posted paintings even though I was positive not one single person would be kind. But people were kind and one person, Aymie Walsh (co-owner of CoeSpace in Bangor) sent me a message and asked me if I wanted to be in an Art Walk.

An Art Walk is a thing where people go from site to site and check out different artists. It all takes place during a set time period in a location like a city or downtown.

When Aymie sent me that message? I thought she might be punking me. I texted my daughter and she said, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

My daughter is the bravest human I know. She’s faced all her fears now. She’s a field artillery officer. She went to Harvard. She’s jumped off buildings. She’s survived me being her mother.

Yes, there is a dog hanging out in the corner.

So, I said yes.

I said yes even though I kept hearing those phrases, wrapping themselves around my heart, over and over again.

Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.

I was an anxious wreck all last Friday. I had one of those existential life crisis moments where I didn’t know why I bothered to exist at all. I was a punk all day. I had so many fears.

So many.

Then we put up all my paintings on the beautiful white walls of CoeSpace. And something inside me shattered.

This could not be real.

I expected nobody to come. I expected people to mock me to my face. I expected to hear those same sentences only slightly twisted around.

You don’ t have an artistic bone in your body. You can’t even draw a straight line.

What are you trying to do?

Here’s the thing though. Nobody said those words to me.

But here’s the bigger thing. Even if they had said those words? They don’t get to make those words real. Only I get to make those words real. Only I get to have that power over who I am and what I want to be.

That’s something I have to learn over and over again in my life. That’s something that I have to remember and paint through because that realization? It’s a heart realization. It’s a soul realization. And it’s too big for words.

There are much better things to tell ourselves, to sing into our stories, and to bind our hearts with.

Oh, honey. Yes, you have.

Those words.

Those words made me braver. Aymie made me braver. My poor, sweet family that dealt with me all day? They made me braver.

I want you to be brave, too. Go after the person you want to be, okay? Sing out your story in the melodies that you want to hear. Become.

Become.

You can. You have. You will.

Over and over again.

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

Writing is NOT Terrible – a Rant, Men Disrobing in the Meat Department

Carrie’s having a bit of a rant this episode. Let’s blame it on her going to a Lynryd Skynrd concert last night.

Here’s the rant:

There’s a lovely funny author who recently gave a speech saying that writing is terrible and that it is 100 % okay to complain about it incessantly and completely professional to do so.

Everyone is all, “Yes! And preach it!”

Except me.

I don’t care what’s professional or not. Obviously, I never have. And I know this will not be a popular podcast. 

But what I do care about is people being miserable. If you are miserable writing, if you hate writing, please think about that for a second. If you hate writing, why are you doing it? We have this one tiny life (allegedly) to create things in, to communicate, to live and experience. Why are you choosing something to do that you feel is terrible? 

And what is it telling kids when all the writers out there, those of us who actually do it for a living say, “Ack. Writing is terrible. It’s so hard.” Do you think that’s encouraging literacy? A love of reading? A love of writing and the written word? 

Here’s a big secret:

You don’t have to suffer. You don’t even have to suffer for your art. That’s something wealthy people in power spoon feed us. You’re allowed to rejoice as you create. It’s okay if you enjoy living and being. Find ways to do that. 

Sure, sometimes things you love might feel terrible. But not all the time. Don’t let it be all the time. You deserve to have joy, too. You deserve to create in a state of wonderment and exploration and passion. You’re allowed to craft your stories while you’re happy or excited and enjoy the excitement. 

Outside forces can make our lives terrible without any of our help. Don’t help them. 

You deserve better than that. 

Writing Tip for Life

Like a person’s life, a writing life has highs and lows. Whenever possible choose highs. Whenever possible choose things and adventures that will make you happy, but more than that, give yourself the space and permission to allow yourself to be happy. 

Dog Tip of the Pod

Enjoy the smells, man. Smell that smell. 

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

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