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It’s here! The List is now available as a Paperback and eBook! - National Release in November 2013!
Download the Excerpt, Watch the Trailer & Read Reviews HERE!

TheListFrontCover Jones smallerWriting is a very personal act rolled up inside of a traditional business. Like any other art form, who we are as artists come through in what we do, whether we like it or not.

The upside as a writer, is that I unexpectedly learn a lot more about myself with each book after readers tell me what themes they’ve picked out of the book.

A light bulb goes on for me and I see what it was I was really trying to say. Sometimes I think there’s a deep, inner part of me that’s driving the bus and motivating me to write so that I can finally get at a truth.

I’d love for that part to send out a postcard and get it over with, but apparently that’s not the way it works.

In The Keeper, the current book and the second thriller in The Wallis Jones series, there are people keeping secrets, or in other words, hiding in plain sight. They appear to be one thing, and as the story progresses, it becomes clear they are something completely different. Don’t worry, that gives nothing away.

What did I learn from that? That the art and the business of my career were not syncing up and I was doing it to myself.

Let me explain. I was pouring everything I had into the books and the reviews from both the media and readers backed me up – they loved the books. That’s the art.

But I was not packaging the books correctly. I was saying they were political thrillers, and then even mumbling that I knew that wasn’t quite right without knowing a better answer. More to the point, without actively seeking out a better answer.

It was as if I didn’t want to know. Then I wrote The Keeper, and saw that I was doing something a lot of us do, and was keeping secrets from myself.

Not big secrets. It’s just that I wasn’t being myself, saying what I really think, giving my true opinion on things – so that no one was ever offended. In the end, the picture of who I am became blurry, even to me.

It’s a quandary to work so hard to try and make everyone happy and create a shell that makes sure I always feel somewhat alone.

The way out is to allow people to see who I really am, which makes me wonder how that will change everything about myself as a writer and an author.

Those two words do not mean the same thing, by the way. One is the art and the other is the business. But finding out I was working so hard to keep some things to myself has helped me to create a bridge between the two and that led me to the second part – the business.

Have you ever wandered around with a question about yourself that mystified you and yet, you couldn’t find the answer? That’s how I felt. Why do people love the books but no one can find them?

The answer was because if you, as a writer, aren’t comfortable with who you are, it will come through in what may still be a good story, but it will also come through in the packaging as an author and make it difficult for others to be sure if they’ll like the product. They’ll pass you by for something more familiar.

The Wallis Jones series belongs in the category of inspirational romantic suspense, which changes a lot of things about the packaging. That’s actually the easy part.

It will still take some courage and faith to become visible and hope it makes a difference. There’s no guarantee that it will – at least not in the way I want it to. Fortunately, I have just enough of whatever is needed to go ahead and try without all the answers up front. Often, that’s all it takes to be successful. More will be revealed.

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The 'new' Me at the end of summer (that's a herd of guinea pigs in the background)

 

There’s an old saying, ‘write about what you know’ but a much more useful saying for me has turned out to be, ‘first figure out who you are and make peace with all of it’.

A little background would be useful here. I’ve been writing professionally for almost 25 years, at the dawn of the internet. I’ve been very successful at writing and have been published traditionally three times, written extensively for the Washington Post and had a syndicated national weekly column.

However, I never felt successful and instead ran around confused, trying to figure out where I fit in the profession. The confusion showed in the different genres I tried and eventually wore me out.

I knew all along that I was getting in my own way and costing myself sales but I had no idea how I was doing it or what to change.

Then, I learned the rule of the truest intention. The rule is, no matter what I claim I want to do or believe, whatever is my strongest underlying intention will rule. Mine turned out to be that I wanted to stay hidden and fade into the background. Too many questions might lead to too much exposure. That can make it difficult to become a well-known, and bestselling author.

Someone even recently pointed out to me that I do a good job of hiding in plain sight.

The result was that I had no practice at saying much about myself but I could give a pretty good description of everyone who was in my immediate orbit at any given time.

Is it any wonder that I was drawn to thrillers? Layer upon layer of misdirection that moves at lightning speed with a lot of fun thrown in on the journey.

However, the smoke has started to clear and instead of wanting to make sure that people know only the surface layer, I’ve learned how to open up and talk about myself.

The result is The Wallis Jones series and the first two books, The List and The Keeper, and an understanding that my books fall into inspirational romantic suspense and not political thriller. It’s a much better fit.

Another big revelation is that even though I’ve been writing for well over two decades, I’ve only been writing this series for a year and a half. That shift means, I’ve started over as an author, and need to view everything from that angle.

A lot of this self-awareness has felt very painful but those feelings pass and what’s left behind is clarity and a more-defined sense of self. It’s a view that I’m really learning to appreciate, even if I still like writing twisted stories of suspense that inspire and bring people together. More will be revealed.

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Potluck CelebrationThere was a time when I thought, once I have this lesson, I won’t have to learn it again. Didn’t matter what the fear was about – financial, relationship, career. There’s something here to learn and once I have it, I can move on and be happy.

That was only partially true. In order to really get at this truth, I was going to have to pull apart the layers of thinking I had about happiness and start from scratch.

First thing I realized was, I was trying to micromanage happiness into a box that I could control and pull out whenever I needed an extra dose. My underlying belief was that happiness was elusive and based on events. If the things that were going on in my life were hard or altogether missing, then I couldn’t be happy.

It also meant that if the people around me showed signs of unhappiness I needed to figure out how to change that for them and the sooner the better. Imagine how much fun that was for all of us.

It was also disrespectful. Instead of letting people choose for themselves how they felt about any given day, I was outright telling them that there was only going to be one mood when you’re around me. Happy. Or really, false happy.

So much low-level tension when I was in the room.

Second layer that had to go was that feeling anxious or even miserable was not necessarily a sign of anything and frankly, probably wasn’t and didn’t matter. It was okay to feel that way, just don’t act on the feelings.

In the past, if I was unhappy at a job for a long enough string of days, it must mean that I wasn’t meant to be there. Time to go. Now, I know to go and reason out what’s really bothering me with only one or two people I trust to help me look for a solution. The answers tend to be a lot less drastic or dramatic. Imagine that.

Sometimes, it has even meant that it’s past time to go but maybe there’s a more constructive, compassionate and better way to go.

Third big layer turned out to be that my faith was going to have to grow to a point where I could trust that God actually does love me, as is and not because of what I do. The labels I hang all over myself like a Christmas tree like writer, mother, runner don’t matter to God and there aren’t better ones, by the way, that do matter.

I’m here for awhile, He made me, He loves me, end of that plot line.

One more big layer is when I don’t say my truth, I dishonor myself and that newly found faith. I do this usually to not upset someone else who I think won’t like what I believe. I don’t actually know that it will but don’t want to find out.

Geez, that first layer bites me again, trying to get everyone to just be false happy.

It doesn’t come naturally just yet, and I realize there’s a certain amount of discernment that’s needed but at least there’s a pause now where I hear this voice within that say, tell the truth here. Let others do with it whatever they choose. Respect them enough to let them be, however they choose to be.

Let it go, again and again.

Underneath all of those layers it turns out that happy is a choice not tied to anything. The way I choose to look at life and believe keeps leading me back to happy.

The Circle, 3rd in The Wallis Jones series, will be out in March 2015. The List and The Keeper are on sale now. If you’re a filmmaker looking for good thriller material, click here.

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Martha pic blue sweater 030313

Come see what it’s all about at www.WallisJones.com

The Circle, 3rd book in the Wallis Jones series, due out in early 2015.

It seems like a human being is a deep, narrow pool of water that is so dense, it’s impossible to see to the very bottom. But there at the bottom is where all the origins of the story of my life are swimming and playing, and teeming with energy.

Every thought, idea and most of all, belief that we’ve taken in as truth and then forgotten that there was ever a time when we didn’t know it, is buried down there in the bottom of that dark pool. At some point, our behavior starts to seem like a part of us. We must have come into the world like this.

It’s an argument to give in to the fears or limitations and work with what we are, who we are and settle. We have completely forgotten that each of those beliefs is just a layer sitting on top of all of our potential.

If only we had the insight to see past it and keep trying.

I spent so much time being afraid of what I might lose and where I might end up that just seeing past all of those layers seemed like a monumental task. I had no idea where to begin and I was positive that I would not only fail, I’d die trying. It was a truth to me and my shrinking life was proof of that belief.

Fortunately, I discovered writing thrillers and through twisted plots and well-meaning characters trying to do their best, I found a voice. For me, it was as if the depths of my soul were tired of waiting for me to come to life and had found a way to be heard.

But I still pulled my punches, trying to write in a way that wouldn’t be found offensive. I’m not sure who I thought I’d offend or what I would say that would do that but I was cautious and careful and busy trying not to look like it. Even with all of that, readers wrote me saying they identified with the characters and felt like someone was finally speaking for them.

We were all speaking to each other on some level I was still not really perceiving but some amount of a message was getting through. Still, I wondered if I had enough, deep at the bottom of the well to sustain me through an entire life. I really wasn’t sure.

My answer was to create a character, Wallis Jones, who is sure of herself and her loving husband Norman, her funny, smart son, Ned, and the life she’s created. She believes everything exists in her life because of the part she played, and the hard work she devoted to all of it. Of course she is succeeding, until she finds out none of it is really true.

What if you found out that your entire family history was a lie the older generation came up with just to keep their own ambitions alive? What if you couldn’t stop the machinery that had been in power for generations and at best, could only hope to escape it or at best, learn to live peacefully within it?

Everyone in The Wallis Jones series is trying to figure out how to be happy in a complicated world, even the characters that have less than admirable traits. Everyone has the same goal but different beliefs in how the universe works and their actions bubble up from that dark place, deep down inside and guide them to think of others, or think of no one but themselves.

Wallis watched all of this unfold in a leafy suburb of Richmond, Virginia among friends who like to play Bunko, and clients at her law firm that keep making the same mistakes, asking for her help. She’s one of us, except for that big conspiracy.

That’s exactly how I walked around for years. I’m okay, I think, except for this big conspiracy that starts from within me and says, you may not be up to the task.

I’ve started to find the beginning of a solution that involves faith and courage and a willingness to keep moving forward. I’m just going to let my story unfold in the series, which seems somehow right at home in a thriller. The first two books are out now, The List and The Keeper, and The Circle will be out early next year. More will be revealed.

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Celebrating the new book, The List: the First in the Wallis Jones series Celebrating the new book, The List: the First in the Wallis Jones series

The new book, The Keeper, the second in the Wallis Jones series is coming along, despite spilling hot grease on my right hand. This too shall pass and maybe it’ll get me to slow down a little.

In the meantime, I’m learning how to focus a little better and make it easier on everyone to get to know the new thriller series. Check out the new blog, dedicated to Wallis Jones and her family, and how to figure out life. Thank you, as always for coming along on the ride with me.

 

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

The List by Martha Randolph Carr

The List

by Martha Randolph Carr

Giveaway ends November 29, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

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Potluck CelebrationIn the News for The List, the First in the Wallis Jones Series:

  • The List will be featured in an upcoming issue of Southern Writers Magazine. Keep an eye out for news and book giveaways
  • First Podcast will be here this Friday, November 22nd with notes on being a successful, nationally syndicated columnist.
  • NATIONAL RELEASE IS ONLY 10 DAYS AWAY! The List national release is Friday, November 29th and will be available where ever books are sold.
  • Book Contest with lots of giveaways coming with the national release. Sign up at this site for the blog and make sure you get updates.
  • Popular author, Martha Carr will be appearing at book festivals nationwide. Check back here for dates and places near you.
  • Book Marketing.com profiles The List

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file000779805174Podcasts are coming soon! Our first topic will be lots of good tips and instructions on how to start and have a career as a successful syndicated columnist. We already have an RSS feed (see the little orange symbol at the top right of this page) and if you’re signed up here, when we post the podcast you’ll get an automatic alert for all of them. Coming topics are: how to start and finish a novel, including setting up the plot and outlining the characters; how to pitch, sell and then research a non-fiction book; and how to afford to be a full-time author.

If you have questions for our first topic on how to be a syndicated columnist, please send them in short, clear sentences before Monday, November 18th. If you have other topics you’d like to see, let us know! Send questions and topic ideas every week by that Monday afternoon.

The first Podcast is scheduled for Friday, November 22nd. See you here!

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