How (Not) to Plan a Party When You’re On a Budget

As you may or may not know, I am hosting my very first release party for my very first novel, Cemetery Tours!

(Insert obnoxious self-promotional web links here: )

Whenever I go to plan a party or a baby shower or a bridal shower, I always think two things.

1) This will be so much fun!

2) This will be so easy!

Wrong and wrong.

Okay, so it has been fun.  Lord knows I love planning parties, especially so close to Halloween when I get to make weekly trips to Party City, pretending to be on serious business mission but secretly eight years old again and taking in every bit of all the Halloween music and decorations and costumes and fun.  But it has also been stressful and a lot, a LOT of planning and budgeting, both of which I apparently suck at.  (Grammar people, leave me alone!)

Now that the party is drawing nigh, I thought I’d share a bit of my infinite wisdom.  Today’s topic: How Not to Plan a Party When You’re on a Budget.

Note: These aren’t issues that necessarily relate to me or my party planning.  But they are good to acknowledge.

1) Invite everyone on your Facebook list and assume most of them won’t come.  People like parties.  People like food.  People like books. People will come to your party.  Even people you don’t know!!!

2) Tell everyone that they should bring their kids because you’re going to have arts and crafts.  This doesn’t work if you don’t know how many kids are coming, how old they all are, and it especially doesn’t work if you can’t think of a good craft suitable for all ages.

3) Go out of your way to plan a fun, casual, low-key release party and then spend every dime of your paycheck on a lot of decorations, candy, and things that only sort of remotely relate to the book and the party.

4) Open yourself up to temptations like State Fair tickets, cheap Halloween movies that you loved as a kid, the newest Nicholas Sparks book, and maybe, kind of sort of preparing yourself to finally get that tattoo.

5) Buy about five liters of every different kind of soda because you’re not sure which kind your guests are going to want.  This is not only not-budget-friendly, but also wildly unhealthy and sugary.

6) Wait until the last minute to order your books from the printer so that you have to pay for a lot of books to be rush-delivered to your doorstep (Mine should arrive Wednesday).

7) Have your friends offer to help you out with party stuff, but then let your controlling, obsessive compulsive nature get the better of you and go ahead and do everything yourself anyway.

8) Instead of buying things you actually need for the party, go ahead and spend $40 on a new hair straightener because your sister (who, by the way, already has straight hair) took the one you used to use away to college.

The Great Pumpkin

“There are three things I’ve learned never to discuss with people; religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”

Wise words, Linus.  Wise words.

As an author of a ghost story, of course I love all things Halloween!  Here are a few of the pictures I took yesterday at the Arboretum.  Enjoy!
















Happy Halloween!

All photographs copyright Jacqueline E. Smith © 2013


Autumn is in the Air

Just a short post for tonight, because I really want to go and get some writing done.

This afternoon, my mother and I took a trip to the Arboretum.  I love going to the Arboretum, especially in the fall, when there are over 2,000 (not an exaggeration) pumpkins and gourds on display.  Naturally, I took my camera (besides writing, my other great love and creative outlet is photography).  I’ll probably post pictures in a couple of days.  This weekend is going to be all about RELEASE PARTY PLANNING!

In the mean time, please enjoy this lovely not-photoshopped-at-all water lily.


Okay, maybe it was photoshopped a little.


The Write Stuff

So, I’ve always heard that the difference between a writer and a non-writer is that a writer writes.  This is pretty much true.  If you want to become a writer, you just have to sit down, grab a pen and paper, or maybe a laptop, and go for it!  However, I’ve realized that being an author, and more specifically, a publisher, is a lot more than writing.  It’s a lot of fun, trying new things, learning about the industry, and figuring out new ways to get your book out there in the world.  However, I find that I am terribly missing the essential aspect of a writer’s life, and that is writing.  

I’ve been working on three separate manuscripts ever since I finished Cemetery Tours.  That’s probably not a good idea, but I love all of them so much!  Unfortunately, i’ve been spending so much time working on Cemetery Tours that these other manuscripts have sort of taken a back seat.  I don’t necessarily mind.  I love Cemetery Tours and I really want people to read it and enjoy it and spread the word. However, I am reaching the point where I am really, really wanting to just sit down and write.

Next week is the Cemetery Tours release party, so I’m already planning on it being fun and hectic.  The week after that, however, I’m anticipating life returning to at least a little normal, so I’m really hoping to get in some good, quality writing time then.  I do love being social and everything, but I also really value my me-time.  If I don’t get enough of that me-time, I tend to get a little… moody.  I get really cranky, I withdraw from everyone, and then I start thinking about selling all my stuff, buying an RV, and running away to the west coast.  That’s not something that needs to be happening.  At least not anytime soon.


Small World

I often find that when I try to be deep and philosophical, I start out with good intentions, but then I end up nonchalant, careless, and, to be quite honest, eager to get done.  Something that comes with being a writer is passion, and to write passionately, you have to feel passionately.  I’ve got to tell you, it can be exhausting trying to put your most emotional thoughts and feelings into words.  You want so much to convey what you are feeling, because you feel that if you do, then your readers will somehow begin to feel the way you do.

This isn’t really going to be one of those posts.  I’m not even sure how that paragraph evolved to be honest.  Yeah, what I’ve been thinking about recently is sort of deep, but it’s nothing like I’m-going-to-crawl-into-the-street-drop-to-my-knees-and-invoke-the-Heavens passion.

It all started the other day when I overheard the familiar phrase, “Oh, what a small world!”

Of course, we use that phrase to make note of shared acquaintances, coincidences, and similar ideas and experiences.  However, it got me thinking about the notion of a “small world.”

Naturally, one of the first things to come to mind when you hear the phrase “small world” is the Disney ride.  It’s actually one of the few attractions I did not get to experience.  But of course, we all know the song.

I understand the point that the lyricist is trying to make.  It means even though we all live different places and we all have different lives, we are all part of the same world, we are all family members in the human race, we are all the same.  Speaking in a matter of humanity, it’s true.  We are more alike than we are different.  We all deserve to be valued as equals and treated with respect.  Location doesn’t matter.

However, I also believe that when we say the world is small, we are inadvertently limiting ourselves and our perception of what’s going on around us.  When I was younger, I was so aware of how many new and exciting things were waiting for me out in the world.  I thought all the time about everything I wanted to do and see and experience.  As I’ve gotten older and more aware of the world around me, however, I’ve begun to suspect that life and experience tends to have the opposite effect.  There are times that, because of everything going on around me, I find my point of view narrowing considerably.  Whenever I become aware of this, I go back to songs and memories I loved as a child, trying my hardest to hold on to that sense of awe and excitement, but it can be difficult at times.

Just the other day, I found myself disappointed over something very small and trivial.  I sat around moping, drank a glass of wine, and just felt sorry for myself.  The next morning, I was still a little down.  However, on my way to work, I listened to a song that reminded me of the path that I’m on, namely my books and my ultimate goal, and I realized that that little disappointment was nothing.  It didn’t effect my longterm goals in the slightest.  I know what I want out of life, and I can’t let anything stop me from going after it.

It’s so easy to get distracted, to let the little things get you down.  It’s easy to be seduced by everything society tells you you need in order to be happy.  It’s easy to compare yourself to everyone around you and feel like a failure or a loser.  I know.  It happens to me all the time.  It’s times like that when I need reminding that the world is so much bigger than my piddly little problems.  

I think our problem as a society is that we have become so absorbed in our own little worlds that we forget what else is out there.  We become blind to possibility, to learning, to experiencing.  I love how it feels to get out of my own mind, to go beyond my own world, and to experience someone else’s.  It’s something I need to do more often.  I’m trapped in my own mind 24 hours a day, and let me tell you, it’s hectic in here.

I’m not sure if this post has made any sense at all.  I try to be articulate and eloquent and all that good stuff, but it is very likely that I just come across and rambly and crazy.  Oh well.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

As for Cemetery Tours, it sold very well in this first week!  I’m so thrilled!  I had, of course, hoped it would do well, but I’m not sure I was expecting this!

Declaration of Independence

As an independent author/publisher/what have you, I really like to support other independents.  Not only writers, but musicians, actors, artists, etc…  One of my friends is an independent model, actress, graphic designer, and singer/songwriter.  She has already released quite a few songs on iTunes, and on October 22, she is releasing her second album.  She has put a lot of hard work, time, and money into bringing this production to life, and I have to say, I respect the heck out of her for doing so!  I know how hard it is to write and publish a novel independently.  Even with as many awesome and amazing people helping out as I had, it was still took a lot of hard work, time, patience, and dedication!  But as much work as that was, I can’t imagine all that goes in to creating an album!  Seriously, it was all I could do to figure out how WordPress worked.

So, if you have a chance, please stop by and check out my very talented friend, Giselle Grayson.




If you’re an independent artist of any kind, actor, musician, writer, artist, etc… please leave a link to your page in the comments section!  I’d love to see your work as well!!

Cemetery Tours Photo Album

In the last week since Cemetery Tours has been available, I’ve had several people send me pictures of their books, or of themselves with the book!  I thought I’d share a few, along with pictures from the websites, reviews, and so on!


The very first copy!


Spreading the word at Starbucks!


The Amazon page! As shared by my high school’s Facbeook page. Proud to be an LHS alum!


The first shipment. These are all gone now. 🙂


Cemetery Tours sold alongside a Meg Cabot novel! I couldn’t be prouder!


My friend sent me this photo! Check out her awesome nails!


This is Cody. Legitimately one of the coolest guys I know. He’s an amazing actor and he’s also a writer! Check out his blog!


Cemetery Tours on KINDLE!


First review!


(Backwards) Cemetery Tours love from Texas Tech!


Things that Happen Once You Become a Published Author

1) You start going out to eat.  Like, a lot.  A lot, a lot.  I have at least three or four scheduled meetings/dinner/lunch plans within the next few days.  It’s kind of insane, but in a really good way!  Not so good for the Party Diet that I’m trying to stay on for the book release, but good in the sense that I get to eat a lot of great food! 

2) You become so desperate to conserve whatever money you have left in your bank account, that you actually start carrying around your gigantic bag of collected loose change to be able to pay for things.


Exhibit A

3) As paranoid and confused as you were about taxes before, it increases by about a million percent.  That brings me to another discussion point.  I learned plenty of stuff in high school.  I learned about the Pythagorean Theorem and a lot of physics crap that I don’t remember and something about organic chemistry and I might even be able to tell you that the integral of e to the xy looks like the word “sexy,” but boy oh boy, I did not learn one thing in high school or college about how to do your taxes.  Maybe they tried to teach it and I tuned it out or something, but the point is… I am a 25 year old woman with a published novel and a Master’s Degree and I don’t know how to do taxes.  This life skill completely evades me.  But you know what?  I don’t blame the school system.  I blame the government for making it so ridiculously difficult!  Seriously, I hate feeling like if I don’t understand and I make some kind of stupid mistake or error, I could end up being fined or arrested or something!  I’m pretty sure that won’t happen, but it’s still something I worry about.

(I received a letter from the tax office today… can you tell?)

4) You start realizing that you’re not actually good at explaining your book out loud to people. 

5) You have to set limits for yourself on how many times a day you can check your sales record.  You sill actually drive yourself crazy trying to figure out if your book is actually selling or not. 

6) Your new found sense of confidence inspires you to think about things that before, you’d never consider. 

7) Instead of taking your day off to play around on Pinterest or stalk people on Facebook, you actually have to run around and do grown up, author things, like sending two copies of your book to the Library of Congress and writing up miniature press releases and biographies and announcements.  There is basically no such thing as a day off when you’re an independent author/publisher.  There is always something that you can be doing. 

8) Your brain get like, ten times more cluttered than it was before.  I’m just glad I managed to wear matching shoes today. 

9) You realize you like the fact that you have a million things you could be doing, even though you’re scared to death that you’re either going to forget something or screw something up.

10) Everyone thinks you’re really cool for following your heart and accomplishing your goal, and you think that of yourself, too.  It’s a really neat feeling.  I highly recommend it. 

11) You start advertising everywhere you can.

Go buy my book! 😀