I realized that I pretty much never post about bookish things on here, which is very bad in terms of marketing and things like that.
But before I am a writing coach and editor and even a podcaster, I’m a writer. I’ve been writing my whole life. It may have been poems or magazine pieces about cancer drugs or horses or newspaper articles about sports teams or land use ordinances and columns. It may have been YA or picture books or middle grade or even adult things.
Always. Always, I’ve been a writer. And even if I’m never published again (gasp) that won’t stop.
So, I’m going to remind myself about that a bit, and hopefully remind you, too!
A Baby Novella
I have a short novella coming out on Amazon really soon. I’ll tell you more about that at the end of the week, but for today? Here’s an excerpt of something I’m working on, so we can all remember I’m a writer. 🙂
The History of Hate
December of his and Anna’s Senior Year
I don’t know where you are, or how to reach you, but I’m still writing you these letters. If you ever actually get them, the first thing you’ll probably wonder is why I’m writing you. The thing is, I don’t think I have a choice. I think I have to explain all this to you, whether you want to know or not, whether you want to hear it or not, whether you want to touch this, touch me, have me touch you. Or not.
I just have to explain and then maybe?
Maybe? I don’t know.
February, Junior Year
What’s it take to rock an election?
It takes a good tagline.
It takes an asshole opponent, excuse my French.
It takes a narcissist, a cult leader, a come-to-Jesus moment. It takes that damn feeling of hope or vengeance.
It takes random people like me helping you and believing in you somehow even though we’ve been hurt by so many others we’ve believed in before.
Every four years all the presidential hopefuls come to Manchester, New Hampshire, the former mill-yard city next to my suburban town and they hope for magic to happen, for the New Hampshire hills and frost to lead them down a lucky road to an election win. The journalists and volunteers follow the candidates around, creating a surge in restaurant sales, filling up hotel rooms and parking lots. News vans with their little satellite dishes take up the parking spaces on the downtown streets. Sometimes candidates and even sitting-presidents come speak at my high school. They prance through the mall, shaking hands, while entourages stroll behind them looking like clumps of suits. Our more politically-motivated parents host parties and fundraisers. Cocktails are made. Hands are shaken. Position papers are recycled.
I always volunteer for some candidate, usually someone that doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning. It’s been like this since kindergarten. I get addicted to helping, to holding signs, sending out campaign mailers, making phone calls to those people who still actually answer their phones.
Dad says I’m a do-gooder.
Mom says I have a savior complex.
I don’t know if either of them are right, really. I just want to make a difference, you know? To believe in something bigger than romance and good grades and getting into college. And it’s exciting to be part of it. This year is no different. I can’t vote yet, which is ridiculous because most of the people I call from the phone bank have no clue about anything other than celebrity gossip, Fox News, let alone read an actual position paper. I meet campaign workers, make friends that I’ll only keep up with on social media and never see again.
But this year is super different because I meet him. Colton Hardy. And I’m so afraid of losing people, more people, that I don’t know how to actually deal with gaining one, you know? It’s like I’m afraid to make friends or fall in love because it’s just one more person I could possibly lose. I’m tired of grief.
But I’m standing on the corner of Elm and Maple streets, a totally prime spot because of downtown traffic and the wide safe sidewalks. I’m not holding an actual sign because I’ve put one on my dog Freya, which says Barkin’ for Larkin. She looks adorable. She’s large, white, furry and fluffy and the sign is on both sides of her. Despite her 120 pounds, she’s chill. People laugh, honk and wave. She wags at them and smiles.
“Brilliant,” says one of the guys standing with me. Art is nerdy and always wears J. Crew mixed with L.L. Bean. He normally goes to NYU but he took the semester off to campaign. “You’re made for this. I can’t believe you’re just a junior.”
“I don’t know what to say.” I dip my boot in the tiny snowbank at the edge of the sidewalk. The snow’s gone from happy and fluffy whiteness to crusty and gray.
“Thank you?” he suggests, using his free hand to pull his hat down over his ears. It’s cold out here. The other hand holds a campaign sign.
“Perfect.” He laughs.
I think he’s flirting but trying not to flirt because he’s in college and I’m still in high school and that’s a decidedly weird age dynamic, but I’m not into him anyways. I’m way more intrigued by the guy standing on the opposite street corner trying to hawk some posters that he’s obviously made himself. He’s young, too, like me—or at least he isn’t older-guy creepy and he has this weird, tall-confident vibe and a southern drawl that I can occasionally catch while he’s selling his merchandise. He’s so charismatic that people actually buy his posters and hug him afterwards.
The thing is that this guy also keeps looking at us and when there’s a lull in traffic he strides across the four lanes of Elm Street and right up to me.
“Hey.” His blue eyes are warm.
“I’m Colton Hardy.” He reaches out a hand to shake. I take it. Ignoring everyone else, he bends down to pet Freya. She wags her tail. “Your dog is beautiful.”
“I’m selling posters,” he says. “Obviously.”
“I’m so sorry, but I don’t have any money.”
His mouth drops open and he stands up straight again, towering over me. “No! No. I was going to give you one for free, but … I? Well, I don’t think our political beliefs align.”
His whole body shivers for a second, poor guy. The tops of his ears are bright red. His voice is made of a silk that seems bordered with coffee and the pattern of his sounds are composed of fluid shapes, each containing this promise that seems to inspire trust, but despite all the cliched butterflies in my stomach, I am not a person who trusts because when you look closely at people you notice that they are made of pain and anger and garish wants, like bad TikTok posts that hit you over the head with their need to be seen, to be noticed, to be important.
“Our political beliefs don’t align? That doesn’t matter. That’s so nice of you. Free. Thank you.” I take the poster which is all about ways liberals and conservatives can come together, making fun of both sides. “You look cold. Do you even have a hat?”
“I’m from Alabama,” he says like that explains everything, which I guess it does and it doesn’t.
One of the women I’m with groans. This campaign has not been the best for human rights or America, honestly. One of the leading candidates says sexist, racist things constantly. The South is becoming a hotbed for liberals like me to hate on, which I get because of the confederate flag and the Jefferson Davis monuments and everything, but racists aren’t just in the South, sexists aren’t just running for president, homophobes aren’t just in one region of the country. They’re everywhere and I hate thinking that I’m going to generalize about an entire state or region the way that I don’t want others to hold bigoted notions about women or sexuality or religion or race or ability.
So, I do something stupid and when he asks me if I want to go out and get some food this weekend, I say yes.
We exchange numbers and he trots back to his corner, smiling. Freya gives him a bark goodbye and everyone I’m with starts muttering about how that was a stupid move.
“He’s harmless,” I say, trying to ignore that magic buzz of butterflies in my stomach, flapping their colorful wings into patterns of hope.
College Guy Art goes, all knowingly, “No man is harmless.”
“You’re a man,” I tell him and he crumples, laughing, because it’s like he forgot.
We all laugh with him as the first text from Colton comes in. It says, I can’t wait.
I close my eyes, try to see if the butterflies in my stomach are good or not and I almost imagine I can hear my dead niece’s voice whisper, “Oh, Anna. Not again. Seriously?”
There you go! Tell me what you think if you’ve read it! I hope you’re all doing well. There is so info behind the jump about ways you can support me. xo – Carrie
WRITING AND OTHER NEWS
IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!
IN THE WOODS, appeared in paperback 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!
HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON
My Patreon site I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT. I also share some writing tips that are also going to be on Teachable as the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME and send people art.
It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.
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!
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BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!
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No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?
Here is the link to the mobile app.
I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here.
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