The Struggle

I went back to the library today to return books that I checked out and to check out some new ones.  I checked out five different books, all on the same subject, for half a chapter of my new manuscript that I need to get written.  Why?  Because this chapter includes sailing and I’ve never sailed before in my life.  I’ve kayaked.  I love kayaking.  But I do not know how to work a sailboat.  This should be fun.

Also, I checked out three other books that I want to read and now I am forced to decide whether I want to be a responsible writer and get to work finishing my chapter or if I want to be self-indulgent and read.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with self-indulgent, since I’ve already spent money on a huge cookie that I did not need. 

And I’ve already eaten it. 

Life is hard.

How to Survive A Horror Flick

As I write this, I am watching Sinister with my mom and my sister.  I’ve been wanting to see it ever since my sister, who is not easily spooked, declared it the most disturbing movie she’d ever seen.  So disturbing, in fact, that she told me that I wasn’t allowed to see it.  She thinks I’m a wimp because I got scared watching The Woman in Black with Harry Pot – I mean Daniel Radcliffe.  

I won’t deny that this movie is very disturbing.  But my sister told me so much about it, that I knew what to expect, so I’m pretty okay right now.  What usually scares me most about horror movies (like The Woman in Black) is when things jump out and surprise you.  I am very easily startled.  My sister is a bit smarter than I am, so she gets freaked out by all the deep, twisted psychological stuff.  Me?  I scream every time something pops out of the darkness and yells, “BOO!”  

Anyway, watching this movie, I realized that characters in these horror flicks would have a much better chance of survival if they stuck to a few basic guidelines.

1.  Don’t go in the attic.  Nothing good ever comes from going into the attic.  The same goes for the basement and especially the woods.  NEVER EVER GO INTO THE WOODS.       

2.  Never tell the antagonist or psychotic stalker or crazy killer that you’re going to call the police.  When you’re in a situation with an antagonist, you don’t provoke them.  You tell them exactly what they want to hear, play along, so that as soon as they leave, you can make a run for it.  Then call the police.    

3.  Don’t try to be the hero.  It’s never pathetic to ask for help, especially from someone who knows what they’re doing.

4.  On the flip side, if you are a side character in a horror movie, never offer to help the protagonist, especially if you are the only person who can help.  You will always end up dead at that pivotal moment when you are the protagonist’s only hope.

5.  The moment you realize there is something wrong, bail.  Get the heck out of the haunted house or creepy forest as fast as your feet can carry you.  

Bonus:  Don’t marry crazy artists or writers who get so obsessed with their craft that they go crazy.  


Reasons to (And Not to) Date a Writer

All of my friends are in different stages of relationships.  Several are married.  One is about to have a baby.  One is in the beginning of a relationship.  One just broke up with her boyfriend of five years.  As for me?  I haven’t dated anyone in almost three years.  I haven’t seriously dated since 2008.  I don’t have a problem with that.  I have other things I want to do and accomplish and achieving those goals is the most important thing to me right now.

Still, seeing all my friends in these different phases of relationships got me thinking.  What kind of guy will I end up with?  Is there a guy who will find my eccentricities charming instead of just weird?  Will any guy be willing to put up with me always being off in my own head and staying up until 3 in the morning to finish a chapter?

To answer my questions, I turned to the ever abundant source of information, Google.  I found some pretty hilarious reasons to date and not to date writers.  These reasons inspired me to compile a couple lists of my own.

So, without further ado, I present to you…


1. We’re very open to other people’s perspectives.  As I’ve mentioned before, we sort of have to be.

2. We are free spirits, which means that we enjoy new experiences and are more often than not very enthusiastic about things.  Everything is cool to the creative mind, and that can be very refreshing.

3. We usually never run out of things to talk about.

4. We are willing to listen.

5. We are nothing if not dedicated.

6. We can be very whimsical and mysterious and insightful and romantic.

7. Believe it or not, I think a lot of us have a pretty firm grasp on reality and what goes on in the world.  We see the world for what it is, but also for what it could be.

8. We love being comfortable.

9. We’re easy to shop for.  You can never, ever go wrong with a Barnes and Noble gift card.

10. We will put forth every effort to make life extraordinary.

And now…


1. We are neurotic.  Like, crazy neurotic.  We over-think everything, dwell on what we’ve done wrong, and obsess over minor details.

2. We lie, but it’s never to hurt someone.  We know exactly what other people want to hear, so we tell them just that.  I think we’ve all played the, “Oh no, I’m such a bad liar,” card at some point.  The truth is… that is a lie.  We’re fantastic liars.  My friends all know this about me.

3. Our brains are muddled messes of ten different plots, fifty characters, and countless lines of witty dialogue all tangled up in a giant ball of crazy.  I can’t speak for all writers, but I know that the simplest, easiest, everyday tasks often bewilder me.  This is why.  There is literally no room in my brain for anything.

4. We get grumpy when we want to write and we can’t.

5. We like being alone.

6. I don’t know if this is true for all writers, but I hate talking on the phone.  I also hate those date nights where you curl up and watch a movie that you’ve seen a million times and do nothing else.  I have to have my computer in front of me and be working on something if I’m going to watch a movie.  Movies in the theater are different.  I love going to the movies.  But it is very hard for me to just sit at home and watch a movie without doing something else.

7. Yes, if you do something stupid or that upsets us, there is a very good chance you will end up in our book.  On the positive side, however, if we like you, you will end up in the book too.  My best friend and two of the crazy people in her graduate program inspired three characters for my new manuscript.

8. We crush hard on celebrities and fictional characters.

9. We spend a lot of time inside our own minds and can, at times, seem very distant.  This isn’t because we don’t love you.  It’s just that we really enjoy spending time in the worlds that we’ve imagined.

10. We will always be poor.  Because we like writing more than working.

Dungeons Deep and Caverns Old

Have you ever had one of those days where you have projects that you want/need to be working on, yet at the same time, you become so immersed in a book or movie that you love that you can’t bring yourself to think of anything else?  That’s what I’m going through right now.

I have a new manuscript that I’ve been working on while my other one is being edited and reread and reread and reread.  I really like this one.  It’s an idea I’ve had in my head for a few years now and suddenly, over the summer, inspiration struck and I knew exactly what I wanted to write.  I didn’t start until recently, however, because I didn’t want to, as Meg Cabot would put it, “cheat” on my other manuscript.  I have a lot of ideas and whenever I’m particularly enthusiastic about one, I forget about ones that are in progress.  If I went with all of my impulses, I would never get one thing completely written.

Anyway, so this week, while I’m supposed to be working on this manuscript that I’ve been so excited about, I get on Pinterest, see one post about The Hobbit, and suddenly, I’ve forgotten everything I want to write about and become the thirteen-year-old girl, totally and completely obsessed with Middle Earth.  This time, however, I’m in love with Richard Armitage and not Orlando Bloom.  I’ve realized that taste sort of evolves as you get older.  Not that Orlando Bloom isn’t a handsome fellow.  He’s just, you know, not Richard Armitage.

I’m the only Tolkien fan in my family, though to be honest, I enjoy the movies a lot more than the books (please don’t hit me!).  Of course, I read the books in eighth grade, so maybe I haven’t really given them a fair shake.  I actually hadn’t even heard of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit until I saw a trailer for the first movie.  Well technically, I had seen the really creepy cartoon version where everyone is not hot, but I didn’t realize what it was until the movies came out.  That’s when I decided that Legolas was the hottest thing on two legs and decided to read the books.

My friends in high school and I were obsessed with LOTR.  We went to see all the movies together, we had posters, we had T-Shirts, we each claimed a member of the fellowship as our own personal property (and believe it or not, I ended up dumping Leoglas for Pippin shortly after I discovered how insanely cute Scottish guys are.  On that topic, my sister and I took a trip to Scotland in July 2011 and as it turns out, Scottish guys are even cuter in person), and we watched all the extended edition box sets with audio commentary.

I am really waving my geek flag for all to see, aren’t I?

The point is, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a big part of my high school experience and will always hold a special place in my heart because of it.  But, just like all fangirls, I go through phases and I actually went through a pretty long phase where I was into other things.  Then, Scotland happened.  Everywhere we went, I found myself humming the score to The Lord of the Rings.  My sister thought I was a nerd, but I couldn’t help myself.  Everything reminded me of Middle Earth.


Eilean Donan Castle.ImageImage

A mountain in Glen Nevis.ImageImage  Image

From atop a mountain.ImageImageMelrose Abbey.  One of my favorite places in the world.

For the record, those actually are my photographs.

For all of Scotland’s wonders, however, nothing compared to the beauty and sanctity of the Isle of Iona.



Iona is just one of those places that can’t be described.  You have to experience it.  Though I will say, I can never hear the song Into the West by Fran Walsh, Howard Shore, and Annie Lennox and not think of Iona.

“Don’t say we have come now to the end… White shores are calling. You and I will meet again.”

Anyway, this is getting way too deep for a blog post.  Long story short, The Lord of the Rings has had a huge impact on my life.  As fate would have it, there was a Lord of the Rings marathon on TV the week after we return from Scotland.  The fangirl in me has not only been well and alive ever since, but she’s been positively thriving since the first trailer for The Hobbit was released over a year ago.

Now, after having seen the movie three times, I have to say The Hobbit is phenomenal (and no, not just because Peter Jackson managed to create the previously unimaginable Sexy Dwarf).  I loved the music.  I loved seeing Frodo again.  I loved the scenery.  I loved getting to go back to Middle Earth, to a place that had meant to much to me growing up.  And may I just say that perfect casting did not exist until Martin Freeman was cast as Bilbo Baggins!  I loved him from Sherlock, so needless to say, I was ecstatic when they announced that both he and the ever amazing and beautiful Benedict Cumberbatch would be starring in The Hobbit trilogy.

Okay yeah, Benedict is a dragon, but he’s still kind of in it.

So yeah, that’s what I’ve been thinking about instead of actually writing my own stuff.  Maybe now that it’s out in cyberspace, however, I will be able to focus more on my manuscript and less on how much I love Hobbits and Elves and Dwarves.

Oh, and Gollum.  I freaking love Gollum.

Wish me luck!!!

What If

Last night, I read through the books I checked out on query letters.  Apparently, this was a mistake on my part.  Instead of feeling uplifted and optimistic about the next few steps I’m to take if I want to get published, I began feeling small, scared, and a little hopeless.  I had all the normal doubts running through my mind, accompanied by some new ones.

What if no one likes my manuscript?

What if no one even asks to see my manuscript?

What if my query letter makes me sound stupid?  Or ditzy?  Or desperate?  

What if I send my query letter to all the wrong agents?

What if someone else writes and publishes all my exact ideas before I get the chance?

What if, what if, what if…

I’ll be the first to admit I overanalyze things.  I think that comes with being a writer.  Not only are writers excruciatingly self-aware, we also have to know how other people might react to certain situations in order to create believable scenarios in our writing.  There is a lot of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes when you’re a writer.  At times, it’s great.  I usually always know how to respond in certain social situations, I can usually see from someone else’s perspective, and I like to think it keeps me pretty open minded.  On the other hand, all these stupid “what-if” scenarios, from best-case to worst-possible, are constantly swimming around in my mind.  It’s a nightmare.  Especially when the worst-cases are the ones that keep screaming in my ear, totally drowning out the part of me who just wants to be optimistic and hopeful and happy.  

It’s not a bad thing to be realistic.  I know how hard it is to break into this business.  I know I will have to be patient, determined, understanding, and 110% dedicated to what I am hoping to accomplish, and I am willing to be just that.  I am more than prepared to do whatever it takes to make this happen.  I just have to keep reminding myself that this road I have chosen will not be an easy one.  And that’s okay.  It’s not supposed to be easy.  I think a lot of times, it’s just so much easier to dwell on the negative and feel sorry for ourselves than it is to embrace the positive and push ourselves to keep working toward our goals, no matter how much time it will take, and no matter how many odds you have stacked against you.  I’m going to try to remember this as I await critiques from my friends and start reading up on copyrighting!  Won’t that be fun!

Until next time!

The Hardships of Being a Domestic Pet

As I have mentioned before, I have two cats.  I love my kitties.  At 25, I am already a certified Old Cat Lady.  As much as I love my two girls, however, they are both very different and do not love each other.


This is Jazzle.  She’s been a pet since before she was born.  Her mother, our dearly departed Basil, was abandoned at our veterinarian’s office by her former owners.  Around that time, she knew my mother was in the market for a new cat, so she called her up to see if she wanted to stop by and see these other two cats that she had.  Mom wasn’t interested in them, but as she was leaving, she noticed Basil reaching her paw out through her cage to her.

“What’s her story?” my mom asked.

The vet proceeded to tell her that she was a young cat, no older than a year or two, and that she had been left there.  She was also expecting a litter of kittens.

My mom knew instantly that she wanted Basil.  She also knew that, at age five, I had never been around a kitten.  Both of our other cats had been old when I was born.  So she told the vet to call us when the kittens were born and we’d come pick one out.  We actually ended up with two kittens.  My grandmother came along and decided she just had to have the little orange kitten.  We named him Rusty.  I, however, had my heart set on a baby girl kitten, and as it turned out, there was only one.  A tiny little blue tortie, the runt of the litter.  I immediately claimed her as mine and christened her Jasmine after Princess Jasmine in Aladdin.  Over the years her name has evolved from Jasmine to Baby Jaz to Jazzie and finally, to Jazzle thanks to Sheldon and his beloved Zazzle on The Big Bang Theory.

Jazzle is now nineteen years old, so we basically do everything we can to keep her happy.  This includes feeding her whatever she wants and giving her glasses of ice water to drink.

jazzle cup

Case in point.

Since she has been a pet all of her life, Jazzle is a pretty happy, unspoiled little kitty.  She sleeps, she eats, she gets brushed, and then she sleeps some more.

Midnight, however, has not always been a pet.  I don’t know her story before she showed up in our backyard one fall evening.  All we know is that she had been fixed, so it’s safe to assume that at one point she was a pet or going to be one, and she didn’t have any diseases when we adopted her, so she’d probably been vaccinated before.  However, when she found us, she was underfed and terrified of humans.  She didn’t let me pet her until about a year and a half later.


This is Midnight.  Yes, she is missing a leg.  And yes, my dad calls her “Tripod.”  And “Wobbles.”  And “Tub.”  But that’s because he thinks she’s fat, not because she has three legs.

I’m not sure what Midnight expected when she first came to live with us, but I don’t think she was expecting there to be so much she had to put up with.

For example, I don’t let her drink dirty water from where the ceiling leaks.  She is forced to drink out of the clean, sterling silver bowl that we put down for her.

Then we don’t let her play with electric wires or get behind the washing machine even though every time she tries, she gets stuck and realizes that she hates it and she gets dirt and dust all over her meticulously clean fur.

Occasionally, she also has to share her chair.  She doesn’t like this at all.

Then, of course, we let other people into the house sometime and she doesn’t approve of that either.  The last time that happened, we locked her up in my room, much to her dismay, and she decided to punish me by refusing to take her pills for about three hours.

Then there’s the vet.  Whenever my mom or I have the audacity to take her to the vet, we hear about it.  For the rest of the day.  And then, of course, she refuses to take her pills, probably because she knows they came from the vet.

The latest egregious sin we have committed involved leaving her alone overnight and allowing my friend to come in and feed her and try to give her pills at 7 when she is accustomed to taking them at 8:30.  That’s pretty much a triple whammy for her.  She doesn’t like being left alone unless she’s trying to sleep, she doesn’t like other people, and she really doesn’t like not being on her schedule.  She flat out refused to take the pills and she didn’t eat a darn thing that my friend left for her, opting instead to devour the entire bowl full of dry food that we had put down before we left.

But at least we had fun on our trip.  And she’s happy that we’re back.  And maybe, just maybe, she’ll forgive me by the time 8:30 rolls around.

A Funny Story and A Poem

I realize that my last few posts have not been all that interesting.  So as far as my book is concerned, all I will say is that I finished revising and it ended up being 78,626 words.  Woo-hoo.

Okay, so here’s the story.  Yes, it is a true story.  I hope it’s as funny in writing as it was in person.

Once upon a time, a group of friends and I decided to take a trip down to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels.  Instead of staying in a hotel, one of the guys’ parents arranged for us to stay at a campsite in these really nice little cabins, complete with refrigerators, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing (and yes, that is my definition of “roughing it”).  We spent two nights in the cabins.  The first night, all of us girls stayed up talking all night, much to the chagrin of my friend, Brittany.  We all got about two hours of sleep that night, but we were so excited to go to Schlitterbahn that we didn’t care.  It ended up being a fantastic day, full of tubing, sliding, and surfing the wave pool, and by the time we returned to the cabins, we were all chlorinated, sunburned, and exhausted.  I was so tired that I didn’t even care that a grasshopper hopped onto my leg while I was out taking pictures of the campsite.

After we were settled in the cabins for the evening, I hopped in the shower.  Now, the bathroom was designed so that the wall that separated it from the main cabin didn’t reach the ceiling.  That meant that you could hear everything that your cabin mates said and/or did while you were in the shower.  It also meant that your cabin mates could throw things like red gummy worms over the top of the wall and into the shower with you.

I was in the middle of rinsing out my hair when all of a sudden, one of the girls screamed.  It wasn’t an ordinary scream.  It was a scream of pure terror; of someone who had just looked into the deepest circle of hell and seen all of their most vivid and traumatizing nightmares staring back at them.  I knew immediately what that scream meant.

There was a cockroach in the cabin.

I, like every rational human being, am terrified of cockroaches.  I was even more terrified of them then, back before I trained myself how to slaughter them from a distance.  I immediately began formulating an escape strategy.  How was I going to get from the bathroom to the metaphoric safety of my bunk bed if I had to cross a room with a rampaging cockroach on the loose?

Before I could come up with a plan, my friend, Kara, screeched, “OH MY GOD IT’S FLYING!”    That was it.  I had to get out of there.  Some may argue that I was foolish to leave the refuge shower, but keep in mind that the roach had wings, and the wall to the restroom was open.  I would have rather been in the cabin and able to see the beast with my own eyes than to have him surprise me in a dark and enclosed space.  I leapt out of the shower, threw on my pajamas, and bolted for the main cabin, where all of my friends were curled up on their beds.  I scampered up to the top bunk with Kara and Brittany.

“Where is it?” I breathed, feeling like a soldier hiding in a ditch from an enemy that was about to open fire.

“I don’t know.  We lost it,” Brittany explained, sounding tired and slightly irritated.

Knowing that none of us would be able to relax, or get down from the bed for that matter, we called one of the guys we were with to come over and kill it for us.  As he searched through the mess of food that was stacked up against the wall, we watched on, admiring him for his chivalry.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t find it, so after wishing us good luck, he headed back to his own cabin.

The five of us sort of looked around at each other, wondering what to do next.  Poor Kara was about to have a panic attack.  Roaches are her Kryptonite.  She hates them more than anyone I’ve ever met.  Meanwhile, Brittany could barely keep her eyes open.  I was right there with her.  I desperately wanted to sleep, but that wasn’t going to happen as long as the roach was running free.  realized then that my desire for sleep outweighed my crippling fear of that stupid bug.  Summoning up every ounce of courage that I possessed, I hopped off the bunk bed, grabbed a broom, and began poking around the room for the roach.

No luck.

“I’m telling you, it’s waiting for me,” Kara said.  “As soon as I go over there, it’s going to come out and kill me.”

I didn’t doubt it.  I wholeheartedly believe that roaches can smell fear and that they attack those that smell weak or vulnerable.

“Maybe if we name it, we won’t be as scared of it,” I said.  Naming things usually creates some sense of endearment.

“Demon From Hell.  How about that?” Kara seethed.

“How about… Cuddly?” Our friend, Kaitie, suggested.  So our little friend became Cuddly the Cockroach.

It turns out that naming things you find disgusting and horrifying does not make them any less so.  We were all still just as terrified by the idea of Cuddly crawling on us as we were when he was just another nasty roach.

After we named him, Kaitie hopped down off her bed and helped me search for Cuddly.  Still no luck.

Then, taking a deep breath, Kara announced, “Okay.  I’m going to help.  You watch.  As soon as I get down there, it’s gonna come out.”

Sure enough, less than two minutes later, “OH I KNEW I’D BE THE ONE TO FIND YOU, YOU LITTLE S**T!  OH YOU LITTLE S**T!”

I turned just in time to see her grab a dustpan off the wall and bring it down on that poor roach with what I can only call all the wrath of Heaven and Hell combined.  Over and over, she whacked the life out of Cuddly the Cockroach, with every separate blow accompanied by some sort of expletive, some of which I’m not even sure were actual words.

“Kara, Kara, it’s okay!  It’s dead!” someone assured her.


After Cuddly was finally dead enough, we swept his poor, flattened carcass out onto our front porch as warning to all other bugs who might have considered dropping in unexpectedly.

A few years later, I was in a poetry class and our assignment was to write a ballad.  Now, I have mentioned before that I am pretty much the worst poet ever, but this is the one poem that I’m actually proud to share.  As you may have guessed, it was inspired by our poor, dearly departed Cuddly.

The Ballad of Sir Cuddly B. Cockroach
An original poem by Jacqueline E. Smith

Life in New Braunfels suited one
Sir Cuddly Cockroach fine.
Fresh country air, tall fields of grass
And campsites full of grime.

He lived life as a happy bug,
Full of stress-free, sunshine days.
By moonlit nights he searched for food
Through cabins’ muddled maze.

Then one day in Cuddly’s realm
Arrived five human girls.
Two were tall, two were short,
One wore a head of curls.

Now these girls seemed nice enough,
No motives to attack.
Cuddly stepped out to say hello,
A scream, a swear, a WHACK!

Sir Cuddly’s blood was shed that night.
Just what was his offense?
Being born a lowly little roach,
Devoid of common sense.

Poor departed Cuddly B.
The life he loved so well
Was ended by the vicious girls
Who bid him, “Rot in hell!”

Short Update

Well, I finished most of my revisions on my manuscript.  I still have a few more to look over, but for the most part, I am very happy and eager to start getting it out there.

Also, tomorrow marks the first day of Lent.  I will be giving up Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.  That will open up a lot of time for me to spend on Pinterest.

I mean my manuscript.

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!

The Next Steps

I met with the woman who edited my manuscript today.  She was very encouraging, very optimistic, and God bless her, she edited all my grammar mistakes.  

im not sure if I mention this B4 but i not so good @ teh grammars.  

Okay, I’m not that bad, but I’m definitely not a grammar guru.  I don’t like admitting this to my friends since in high school, we had weekly quizzes on grammar so theoretically, I should know it.  Then, all of my college friends took grammar courses during undergrad but I was like, “No, I had enough of that in high school.  I already know grammar.  Blah, blah, blah…”

So yeah, I keep my lack of grammar-savvyness to myself.  

Anyway, my next steps are going to be to go back through my manuscript, work through her corrections and suggestions, and then give a revised copy to her so that she can give it to her friend so that she can look it over.  I think I might also send a copy to my friend who has self published a book (you can check out his website here:  

Well, until next time!  🙂    

Keep Moving Forward

Today, I was feeling a little better, so I took a trip to the library.  I picked up two books on writing proposals and query letters.  I’ve been scribbling out ideas, but I still need some guidance on structure and content.  Granted, I know that how-to books can only take you so far.  A lot of it has to come from inside of you (that sounds so profound, doesn’t it?).  A few years ago, when I first realized that I wanted to be an author, I read On Writing by Stephen King.  He said that one of the worst mistakes that an aspiring author can make is taking a writing class.  On her website, Meg Cabot says the same thing.  Well, I ignored their words of wisdom.  I took three writing classes throughout the course of college and graduate school.

Guess what?

I hated them.  Well, technically, I hated two of them.  Poetry was pretty okay.  Except for this really creepy guy with a demonic gargoyle tattooed on his wrist, but you know, to each their own.  Anyway, I enjoyed poetry because A) I really suck at poetry and it was interesting to learn and B) I don’t want to be a poet.

But the other classes?  Horrible.  Though you know, the professors may have had something to do with that.  Without a gifted instructor who genuinely cares about their students and wants to help them succeed, any class is going to be horrible.  One of my teachers actually told us that writing was a waste of time, none of us would ever get anywhere with it, and that we should just give up now.

Great encouragement, right?

Anyway, along with those books on how to write query letters, I also picked up a few books for my new manuscript.  Perusing through the aisles reminded me of all the times I’d visited libraries for research papers and projects throughout my six years of higher education.  May I just say it is a lot more fun doing research for something you actually want to write rather than something you are told you have to write or else you fail.

Well, that’s about all I have for tonight.  I’m gonna go microwave myself some dinner.  Good night!