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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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Martha Carr: Here’s a Secret About Books

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo by Joe Doe 2010

Several people have asked me lately to make note of where I see God in the world. This has been going on for months. So far, it’s not really going well. If I’m looking for the light, to date, I’ve found a flickering match.

I’m over the whole parking spaces or rustling in the trees imagery that a lot of people use to say, ‘Oh, there’s God.’ I’m going to need a little something more. I don’t know if that means a big show or small details but I’m willing to ask for more and with good reason.

I’m tired of my view of God being as narrow as trying to get the full view of an elephant through a three-inch slit.

But convincing myself that God is bigger – getting that notion from my head and deep into my heart – has not been easy. The contrary action that a few people have asked me to do is stretch that view and ask God to show Himself in much bigger ways. Start from within, look outward and expect everything.

So far, not much to report but I’m optimistic and I’m going to keep going. I’m even feeling a little excited about the show that I just know is unfolding. More adventures to follow

 

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Girl Power - have to honor it in order to keep it.

There was a recent kerfuffel between the pope in Rome and some mild-mannered nuns in America who up till now had mostly been known for taking care of the poor. Pope Benedict said they were spending far too much time with the downtrodden and were off-message. At this point, does it even matter what the ‘message’ was supposed to be?

Fortunately, the nuns appear to know who is really their boss and have decided to keep hanging out with the homeless.

At 52 years old, I can remember a time not so long ago when women who wanted a divorce as recently as the 1970′s would carefully plot out having a credit card and a bank account in their name before they’d announce to their soon-to-be-ex that they were leaving. That was because banks didn’t give single women credit, regardless of their financial standing.

When I went on interviews to become a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch I was routinely asked about when I’d be leaving to have children and would angry clients make me cry. Frankly, my favorite client who’d made millions in real estate, started out our first conversation by saying, “Brokers are nothing more than well-paid whores.”

I replied, “I’ve heard the same thing about real estate.” He gave a big belly-laugh and started listening.

My older sisters had even coached me on what to say when I was hit with the weird, whacky and sometimes even illegal questions so that I’d get the job and in the end, prove I could do the job with one hand tied behind my back.

There’s  a recent trend, though, spreading across America to repeal certain laws, state by state that gave women well-earned and hard-fought rights to equal pay or the chance to ever get that job.

As boring as politics can sometimes seem when the airwaves are filled with ads slamming someone, who gets elected can make a real difference in what you might be able to do tomorrow.

Pay attention, choose your candidate and vote. A lot of women fought a long, hard fight to make sure you’d get to dream even bigger. I’d like to thank a group of humble nuns who give of their time and their talents for reminding me of that lesson. More adventures to follow.

 

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Help us bring my cousin, Ian Burnet home.

My young cousin, Ian Burnet, age 22 is missing. On December 26th he left Virginia by bus to New York City where he planned to celebrate New Year’s Eve. He sent his dad, Mark Burnet, a text saying he had gotten there just fine.

Then on the night of December 30th he sent a few texts to friends, saying he was about to head out and disappeared into the night. No one can find any trace of him since that night.

There is a growing army of people who are out searching for signs of Ian but so far we haven’t found any clues to what happened after he stepped out of that apartment at 139th and Riverside.

However, we live in a culture where everyone is constantly taking pictures with their cell phones and watching what everyone else is doing. I know someone had to have seen my sweet cousin, Ian with his mop of brown curls that shade pale green eyes.

My readers are great at sharing with me how their lives are going and you have all prayed for me on more than one occasion and I’ve gladly returned the favor for a few of you who’ve written to me.

Now I’m asking you once again. Take a good, long look at this LINK and share it with everyone you know, particularly in the Northeast. Talk about Ian Burnet and share with friends that an engineering graduate student from my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University who is looking forward to getting back to school, is missing.

Pray for his parents, my cousins, Nancy and Mark, his brother Jamie and his grandmother, Norie and all the friends and family who love Ian and want him to come home. Believe for the best possible outcome and keep talking. Someone out there doesn’t know they were walking right past someone we love very much and could tell us more information. But if enough of you share this story, they’ll know soon enough.

I believe in my readers because I’ve seen what you can do.

Let me tell you what I know of Ian so that you can know him a little better and have something to share with friends. We liked watching The Colbert Report together one spring as he was getting over a girlfriend and I was getting over a bad economy. He’d tell me his views on politics and the world and I’d feel better about the state of things in America.

Ian would try, patiently, over and over again to show me different things my computer could do to make my work life easier but I didn’t retain any of it. Finally, he took over and did a few things to my laptop that made it run faster, smoother. I still have no idea what he did.

Whenever his brother Jamie was around the two of them would talk quietly to each other, just below the volume where older adults could hear anything good. They would laugh, start another story and slowly fade out of the room till they were upstairs again or down the hall in Norie’s spare room, typing away on keyboards, still talking.

I always stay with his grandmother, Norie when I visit them and Ian and Jamie at some point stop by to see us. They don’t even do that dropped gaze thing that lets you know a younger member of your family is doing you a favor but is counting the minutes. Both of them sit down and chat and hang with us for a while.

Share all of my stories of Ian Burnet and share the link with everyone you know, too. Tell everyone that a wonderful young man who still has a lot to do is missing and needs our help.

Come home and watch the Colbert Report with me again, Ian. My view of the world has been getting a little tired around the edges lately and I want to hear one more time that everything is actually alright. Love you and miss you cousin. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph if you know anything about the disappearance or whereabouts of Ian Burnet.

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