Martha Carr Skype Book Clubs - Learn More

God

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.

{ 0 comments }

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.

{ 0 comments }

{ 0 comments }

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.

{ 0 comments }

Martha Carr: Here’s a Secret About Books

{ 0 comments }

Mom Leontine (Tina) Elaine Carr: June 1, 1926 to April 18, 2013

On Wednesday night my mother, Leontine Carr, Tina, died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 86 and finally got to dance with my dad, Dabney Carr again. He had gone ahead of her in April of 2005 to get things ready. That was their usual system but she had missed him every day of those eight years. She was happy and having a good time right until the end, always entertaining someone with her stories and more and more Mom was remembering her younger days like what it was like to have a grandfather in rural Georgia who owned a candy store or to be a young mother with so many kids. There are five of us and my oldest sister, Diana did a great job of looking after Mom these past eight years, Linda and Cary kept in constant contact and sent presents along with my brother Dabney and we all visited and made sure she knew we loved her. She made a point her entire life of telling everyone else how much she loved us. In the end, that’s all there is. Dance with Dad in peace, Mom and we’ll do our best to honor your life in the way we live ours.

{ 0 comments }

Every year, for the past five years, I’ve tried to adopt a new attitude at the start of the calendar year, instead of making up a list of ‘ought to’ that will only haunt me long after I’ve give up on them. It dawned on me one New Year that focusing on a word, like courage or abundance leaves more room for God and offers me the opportunity to be open to His plan instead of my need to fix, manage or control the bejeebus out of a situation.

So, for this year the word that has kept coming up is ‘Believe’ with a capital B. It’s a big word and comes from the notion of believing for everything good, which in my case takes a lot of faith and a willingness to be uncomfortable.

I like control, a plan, knowing what’s coming next and none of that is possible if I’m opening my life up to big growth, positive change and a much larger Master Plan.

So why do it?

That’s when I can feel my shoulders relax just a little because I remember that my methods have never, ever gotten me very far and have often left me feeling lonely and discouraged talking way too much about me and ignoring the blessings right in front of me.

If my closed fist, squeezing as hard as I can around the events in my life has failed, I have nothing to lose by relaxing and trying it God’s way instead. That is going to require me to let up on myself just a bit and be okay with the pace that comes out, fast or slow, on any given day. Frankly, to be okay with big events actually turning out right and without my intervention or manipulation. They just go right. To even be okay with making mistakes and they still turn out well.

A short recap of everything that’s gone right lately easily shows me that sticking with God’s plan has been worth my learning to let go. In the past year, I’ve lost 86 pounds and soon, I’ll be starting out on Maintenance, which is brand-new territory. Updates to all of the photos on the site will be coming soon.

The last of my old debt is getting paid off and my entire financial life is becoming healthy. Yeah, new territory. There is interest in the new thriller, which means a new book in 2013 and traveling across the country speaking to different charities. There are even two different movie companies interested in two different books of mine. A lot of change, one day at a time.

It’s like I can feel these deep shifts from within my spirit and I have no idea what to do with all of it except to hang on and Believe. Happy New Year Everyone! More adventures to follow.

{ 3 comments }

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

The summer is officially over as of last Saturday and with that goes my first season of triathlon training. And by the way, no, I didn’t sign up for a triathlon this year. Like I said from the beginning, this year was all about figuring out how to stay on a bike, which if you’ve been following along took me a few tries and a really nice scar on my right ankle, learning how to swim faster, run faster and get to know some new people.

I did okay, not great, against my expectations, which is a victory.

To recap, I lost about 35 more pounds, bringing the total to 75 pounds lost so far and only 15 to go till maintenance. Also known as the Promised Land. I’ve been at that weight before but the idea of working at staying that weight is the new part. I really didn’t get that maintenance would take just as much forethought, till now.

But, now it’s the Fall Season and I live in Chicago, which means soon it will get very, very cold outside and if I don’t care to go backwards and regain weight I’ll need a new plan of action.

It’s a tiny bit tempting to take a break but I’ve done that enough and I know that’s a slippery slope. Better to get started before my entire brain even catches on that sitting down was a possibility.

I already belong to a great gym that’s in my neighborhood that just put in a pool, has an erg (rowing machine) and classes at ungodly early hours and late at night. No excuses. Next week, I set out to create a new pattern and see what happens. The weight lifting class and the boxing are my first stops. I’ll let you know how it goes. More adventures to follow.

{ 0 comments }

I have had this list for a long time that in a nutshell started with, when I, fill in a blank and ended with, then I will, fill in another blank.

It covered every area of my life. Career, money, love, health. Everything felt incomplete and way out of my reach.

I had no clue how to obtain a thinner body, a better job, a bigger book deal, a good man and it all seemed very necessary in order to be happy. The magnitude of it made me give up a lot of the time and run around in circles with all sorts of plans that I started and stopped. My life was frustrating and choppy and never quite got me anywhere.

Then, everything changed. Somewhere along the path I got so worn out I stopped and decided to challenge God. It was the only language I knew – contests were my thing. I know a lot of great preachers say, thank God for the great good that is already being created for you, but I had way too much anger and fear to thank anyone for anything.

However, I could throw down a challenge and maybe, this time, I could stand back and take my hands off the wheel. I was just desperate enough, thank goodness.

Okay, here I am about six years later and I never stopped letting God in, in fits and starts and my list is gone. I weight 70 pounds less, I have a better job, my latest book is on a really good path and that man thing, I’m giving Match.com a whirl.

The point is, I’m no longer looking to the future for a start date on my life and that presents an interesting idea.

I’ve never been in this spot before. The whole maintenance of life where we basically have the baseline for what we want and are going along with what comes next, doing our part and enjoying how things are in this now moment. I can’t really say much more than that just yet, it’s all so new. But I can tell you I’m happy to be here and I’m excited to find out what it’s all like. No more waiting to find out if it’s possible. More adventures to follow.

{ 0 comments }

Photo by OhBuoyancy!

I’m grateful I have dental insurance. I’m grateful I have a great dentist. I’m sorry I’ve seen so much of her lately. The dentist is my least favorite place to go. I dread it almost as much as I dread going to the Oncology Department at Northwestern University and I freeze up just about as much as I approach their door. (And by the way, one more semi-annual healthy visit to the cancer doctors and I get to stretch that out to a year.) For me, that means that I grow more silent and have to consciously answer questions and at least be polite.

It’s moments like these that I’m really not a big fan of chit chat and do my best to bury my nose in the Newsweek from last spring.

So, this morning when I headed out to see what could be done for a molar that had lost half of a very old, silver filling I did my best to keep repeating, this too shall pass.

That phrase has gotten me through a lot of things in recent years; some of it big stuff and some of it petty and momentary. Frankly, sometimes it’s the petty things that trip me up the most and cause me to get in my own way.

I’ve noticed, though, as my faith in God has grown so has my willingness to just see where something is going and to believe, more and more that the destination is a good place. Lately, I’ve even had the thought that I’m already on the journey.

I mentioned to a friend, who asked me how I was doing, that I was good. I wish I was thinner, richer and happily married but I was good. She replied, and quickly, that I had lost a lot of weight, had a better job and God probably had something in mind for the rest too. Good answer.

Now, I have a temporary filling, a placeholder, till the fancy one from the lab is back and it’s not the best but it’ll do for now. It’s just a piece of the same journey and well, this too shall pass. More adventures to follow.

{ 0 comments }