Texas Stereotypes

A lot of my friends are Texans who have moved to other states.  They all love their new homes, but they know that there is a part of them that will always be Texan.

Sort of along those same lines, I’ve been thinking a lot about characterization.  Characters and dialogue are my absolute favorite part of writing both new and old stories.  I love figuring out what motivates them, what they value, who and what the like or dislike, what irritates them.  Characters, people in general, are interesting!  Something that I’ve always found particularly fascinating is the way that other people perceive each other.

Southerners and Texans are often stereotyped as horse-riding, beer-swigging, gun-toting rednecks.  I guess in some parts, that’s not entirely inaccurate.  Other times, Texans and Southerners are portrayed with thick, and I do mean THICK Southern drawls and politically insensitive and religious to the point of ignorance.  Again, I’m sure there are people like that out there, but every accent I’ve ever heard has been extremely exaggerated.

That being said, I’ve decided to list out a few typical Texas/Southern stereotypes to see how well I conform to the standards.  These are in no particular order and I won’t list every stereotype in the book, but it’s something I thought would be kind of fun.

Texas Stereotypes

“Y’all” – Yes, I definitely use “y’all.” I probably say “y’all” more than I say my own name. Even my characters say “y’all.”

Sweet Tea – Most Texans really do love their iced tea, but I’ve never been a tea drinker. I like water.

Perpetual Tan Lines – True.  Always true.

Horses – I have friends who ride horses, but I’ve only ridden a horse once in my life. As it turns out, I’m actually allergic to horses.

Bluebell Ice Cream – Best. Ice. Cream. Ever.

Bluebonnets – Like most Texans, I am obsessed with bluebonnets. My parents have the stereotypical picture of me in a field of bluebonnets as a kid.

Barbecue – Love.

Cowboy Boots – They’re not expensive or fancy, but I love mine!

Dr. Pepper – I don’t like soft drinks.

Guns – I’ve never shot a gun in my life. I do want to go to a shooting range sometime though.

Political Beliefs – Oh, I’d rather not go too far into my beliefs. I don’t want to start any sort of heated discussion. Let’s just say I am moderate, non-confrontational, and I believe in equality.

Beer – I like the taste of beer, but I do not like the carbonation.

Country Music – Love it.  I have an entire playlist dedicated entirely to Country Music.  One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to was Roger Creager.  We ate barbecue and sat on a blanket under the stars and couples all around were two-stepping.  Super stereotypical and awesome.

Rednecks – I am definitely not a redneck. My idea of “roughing it” is a comfy cabin in the woods with indoor plumbing and air-conditioning.

Line Dancing – I think it’s impossible to live here and not know how to line dance.

Snow Shuts Everything Down – We don’t refer to one inch of ice as Snowmageddon or Icepocalypse for nothing. The only time I tried driving on ice, I totaled my car.

Tubing – One of the funnest things ever.

Cowboy Hat – I wore mine to DisneyWorld.

God – Yes.

Conclusion – If I was a character in a story, I think I’d be a stereotype.

Books, Books, Books

Hi, friends!

The past couple days have been pretty busy.  I attended my first book club meeting as a guest author.  It was so much fun, and all of the ladies just had the sweetest things to say about Cemetery Tours.  It was so encouraging and just a wonderful night.

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In preparation for the book club, I took a trip to Barnes and Noble for a gift card for the hostess.  While I was there, of course, I did a little shopping around.  It’s impossible to walk into Barnes and Noble and NOT shop, you know?

As I looked around, I found myself thinking of a Facebook post I’d seen recently about how today’s young people read less than any generation before.  Now, I’m not sure if that’s true or not.  I’m no statistician.  However, as I passed the John Green section, I thought about The Fault in Our Stars, and how it’s been celebrating a nice spot on top of the box office charts.  Apparently, people are shocked that it’s doing so well, but to be honest, I’m surprised that people are surprised.  With the book’s enormous and devoted fan base, how could it not do well?

Then I started thinking about other major blockbuster events and award nominated movies, Divergent, Catching Fire, 12 Years a Slave, Philomena, The Hobbit, etc… and I realized they all had one thing in common.  They are all adaptations of books.  Even television series, The Vampire Diaries, Sherlock, True Blood, GAME OF THRONES, all are based off of BOOKS.

Whether statisticians like to acknowledge it or not, books and authors play a HUGE role in our world today, or at least in the entertainment industry.  And you know, it doesn’t stop there.  We have The Giver, The Maze Runner, Ender’s Game, The Lord of the Rings, Twilight, The Princess Diaries, The Book Thief, The Walking Dead (graphic novel, but still)even Disney based fairy tales go back to books and works of authors like Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm.

And of course, we can’t forget the Wizard himself, Harry Potter.

So many of our cultural phenomena go back to books.  Not all, of course, but enough to think that no, books and reading are not on the way out.  There’s never been a greater time to be a reader or a writer.  John Green, a nerdy guy who started a vlog series with his brother, is quite frankly, a rock star now.  Books and reading are an important part of our lives and our society.  They expand and enrich our worlds, our minds, our perspectives.

Are people reading less today than ever before?  I don’t know.  I don’t know how those things are figured.  But I do know that, while I was working up at my camp, two girls overheard me talking about books and they immediately ran over to ask what I was reading, and if I’d read this or that.  They were so excited, not to talk about the latest pop star or hottest television show, but to talk about books.  If that isn’t encouraging, I don’t know what is.

Speaking of having read this or that, Cemetery Tours is standing strong at 43 reviews, but I still need 7 more by July 1 to reach my goal of 50!

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I hope you all have a great Thursday!  It’s almost Friday the 13th, plus a full Honey Moon!  I’ll be sure to celebrate with my black cat.

How it Started

Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at my first book club meeting!  I’m really excited about it, but I also wasn’t really sure what to expect, so I emailed one of the ladies hosting the event.  She said not to worry and that she had told her friends to come prepared with questions.  She did, however, mention that her guests might be interested in what inspired Cemetery Tours and how it all started.

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I think I’ve said before that I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories and that I was a little nerd who had all those scary story books and watched the true haunting shows around Halloween and that’s why I eventually decided to write a ghost story of my own.  That’s true, but mere childhood fascination with the paranormal was not the only thing that inspired me to write Cemetery Tours.

I hadn’t even planned on writing a ghost story, to be honest with you.  I was more into the chick-lit genre and was in the middle of writing a college-cenetered story when I suffered a pretty unbearable loss.  I don’t really want to go into it, because it will make me sad, but it was very unexpected and it hit me harder than anything has before.  I began questioning everything.  Out of sheer desperation, I went to the library and checked out every book I could find on the afterlife.  Reading other people’s experiences brought me a lot of comfort.  Writing, as it turned out, brought me even more.

But loss wasn’t the only factor in creating Cemetery Tours.  If it had been, it’d be a much more depressing story.

My second source of inspiration came in the form of Criminal Minds.  I was at a friend’s apartment one night and it happened to be on TV.  That was when I first caught a glimpse of Matthew Gray Gubler.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.  I’m a nerd.  I’m a fangirl.  And Spencer Reid as portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler was the cutest guy I’d ever seen in my life.  I knew after one episode (incidentally, the one where Reid ends up in the hospital with Anthrax) that he was going to be my muse for… whoever my protagonist was going to be.  I didn’t know at the time.  I just knew I wanted a cute yet kind of awkward guy who didn’t want anyone to know that he could see ghosts.

I had several early drafts of the story that fizzled out before I finished.  Something seemed off.  I wasn’t connecting with my main character (whose named changed several times before I finally found Michael Sinclair) and I couldn’t find a way that connected him to his potential love interest in a way that wasn’t stupid or cliche.  All in all, I realized there was a key component missing in the story.

Cue Luke Rainer.

It wasn’t until I made the decision to bring in a hot shot paranormal superstar that everything finally seemed to fall into place.  Luke, in all his arrogant yet charming glory, turned out to be the key.

Interestingly enough, I first discovered one of my Luke Rainer inspirations, Ghost Adventures, the day after that devastating loss.

It was October 24, 2010, and I was so depressed that I did nothing that day except sit around and watch 16 and Pregnant.  Let me tell you, I hate reality TV shows, but that day, it was all I wanted to do.  After the last episode of the day, I began flipping through channels and noticed a show called Ghost Adventures on Travel Channel.  That was pretty much all it took.

Once I brought in Luke Rainer (who was originally a character in another story), all that remained was a name for his ghost-hunting team.  It didn’t take me very long to decide on Cemetery Tours.  In fact, I didn’t even come up with it.  It was a title that my dad had come up with years earlier on a road trip to San Antonio.  We stopped at a roadside Dairy Queen across the highway from a small town cemetery and my dad goes, “You know, you should write a story about a bunch of cemeteries around Texas and call it Cemetery Tours.”

Funnily enough, a lot of people think that Cemetery Tours is a book about cemeteries.  It does make sense.  But no, it’s definitely a fictional ghost story, one that I hope people of all ages can enjoy.

http://www.amazon.com/Cemetery-Tours-Jacqueline-Smith-ebook/dp/B00F7CHQ08/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402361581&sr=8-1&keywords=cemetery+tours

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Huge thanks to Callum McLaughlin (http://callummclaughlin.wordpress.com) for nominating me for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

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I think I’ve mentioned before that I have been spending most of this week proof-reading Between Worlds so that it is ready to go in time for publication on July 1 (eeeeeek!), so I really don’t have a lot to blog about!  So thank you, Callum, for your nomination!

As it is, this is going to be a very busy weekend, and I am short on time, so I will not be able to go through and participate in the actual acceptance of the blog (seven facts and nominating 15 other bloggers).  Please know, however, that I will try my hardest to do so in the following week!

Again, thank you so much, Callum for your words and nomination!  You absolutely made my day!

I have to say, however, that I love seeing who other people have nominated, because I always enjoy finding new blogs to follow!

The Liebster Award

Hi, everyone!  Lots of exciting things are happening.  My second book signing has been scheduled for July, we have less than a month until Between Worlds is released, and I just found out I’ve been nominated for another Liebster Award!  Thank you so much Veronica and Ashley of http://citygirlscapes.com for nominating me!

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For this award, nominees are supposed to answer 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them and then list 11 facts about themselves.  I’ve been really short on blog ideas lately, because all I am doing with my life right now is proofreading (yay), so this is a great opportunity for me to spread the love and get a little writing and blogging in!  Thank you again, Veronica and Ashley!

11 Questions:

1. What is your reading platform of choice: an e-reader or an actual, physical book?

Actual physical book all the way.  I love pages, I love the smell of books, there’s just nothing better.

2. Inspired by Bird Box by Josh Malerman, if you had to live blindfolded, what would you most miss seeing?

Forests and oceans and lakes and mountains.

3. Where in the world would you travel if nothing was stopping you?

Australia, Fiji, Spain, Italy, Alaska, Caribbean, back to Scotland… the list goes on and on.

4. What TV show do you never miss an episode of?

The Big Bang Theory.  I watch it religiously.

5. If you could sit down for dinner with one celebrity, who would it be and what would you say to break the ice?

Benedict Cumberbatch, and I’d probably say something really awkward and stupid like, “Hi, I’m single. Let’s get married.”

6. What inspired you to start blogging?

I started this blog when I began exploring the publishing world.  It began as a way to document the process, but now I use it for connecting with fellow writers and readers.

7. Do you have a landline telephone or do you only have a cell phone?

Only a cell phone.

8. What was the last thing that made you laugh really, really hard?

A Very Potter Senior Year by Team Starkid.

9. Who do you look up to?

My parents, my sister, and John Green.

10. What is your dream job?

I think I’m supposed to say “author,” and it is, but truly, my dream job would be just being so filthy rich that I could travel and take pictures and save marine life.  That, or Disney Princess.

11. Where do you want to see yourself in 5-10 years?

I would love to become a #1 Best Selling author by the time I’m 30, but I’d settle for mid-30s also.  I’m also hoping to be traveling!

11 Facts

1. I don’t drink coffee or soda or anything with carbonation, not because I like to be healthy, but because I do not like the taste or the fizz.

2. I once stole a cross necklace from my church. Technically, it was my choir cross and it was going to be thrown out anyway.  But my friends and I all snuck into the choir room and smuggled our crosses out on the last day.  We called ourselves The Crucifixers. FYI the cross is still proudly displayed in my room.

3. My ideal man (besides Benedict Cumberbatch) is Niles Crane from Frasier.  I even named my car after him.

4. I don’t like scented markers.  After my grandmother died when I was six, people brought a lot of gifts over to our house, and for some reason, I got like, three packages of scented markers.  To this day, the smell takes me right back.

5. I once stuck my finger inside of our old typewriter to understand how it worked. I ended up with an O on my finger.

6. My great-grandparents were friends with Colonel Sanders, aka the guy on the KFC box (though I may have shared this before, it is my one claim to fame).

7. I’m a Ravenclaw.

8. My favorite actor is Geoffrey Rush. I love him in everything, especially PIRATES!

9. Even though I’ve been out of school for two years, I still have nightmares about not studying for exams and incomplete assignments.

10. I won a goldfish from the state fair when I was 9.  She lived 14 months!

11. I’ve had a lot of people question my ethnicity because of my hair. The truth is I have the most boring heritage ever.  Scottish, Welsh, and French, with a hint of German and Irish.  The curly hair comes from Scotland.  I fit in quite nicely while I was there!

I nominate…

http://jadoremusic89.wordpress.com

http://coffeewriterepeat.wordpress.com

http://audreyhepburnbooks.wordpress.com

http://paws2smile.wordpress.com

Here are your Questions!

1. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

2. Do you have a favorite go-to snack or drink for whenever you’re reading or writing?

3. Are there any movie adaptations of favorite books that you either really loved or really hated?

4. Mac or PC?

5. If you could have any pet in the world, what would it be?

6. What book would you like to forget so that you could go back and experience reading it for the first time again?

7. Where is your favorite place you’ve ever been? 

8. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

9. If you could visit one fictional or mythical place, where would you go?

10. Do you have a favorite writing/reading spot?

11. If you could meet three people throughout history, who would you meet? 

 

30 Days!

Okay, people of the cyber world, it is June 1.  That means the one month countdown to BETWEEN WORLDS is officially on!

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In honor of the impending release, CEMETERY TOURS is on sale from now to July 1 for only $2.99 on Nook and Kindle.  Once July 1 hits, it will go back to $4.95, so get it while it’s on sale!

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cemetery-tours-jacqueline-e-smith/1117000854?ean=9780989673402

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Cemetery-Tours-Jacqueline-Smith-ebook/dp/B00F7CHQ08/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401672575&sr=8-1&keywords=cemetery+tours

Before Cemetery Tours release, I tried to do some kind of fun promotional thing at least once a week.  Today, I thought I’d give you a few Anti-Spoilers/Bits of Trivia about Between Worlds.

1) I have had the idea in my head for this book longer than Cemetery Tours.  I pretty much wrote Cemetery Tours so I could write this one.

2) It is set in a fictional mansion in Maine.  This mansion was inspired by too many childhood viewings of Casper.

3) Brink plays a bigger role in this book than in the first.  He actually wasn’t intended to be in the book that much.  In fact, he was just going to have a few scenes in the beginning of the book.  But as it turned out, he is everyone’s favorite character, so he ended up being promoted to one of the main characters.  The best thing about Brink being everyone’s favorite, I realize, is that no one ever has to worry about me killing him off.  He’s already dead.

4) I was afraid that this book wouldn’t be as spooky as Cemetery Tours, but there were a few scenes that, when I wrote them, I actually spooked myself.  I’m hoping that readers find them spooky too.

5) In this book, we meet the rest of the Cemetery Tours team: Gail Marsh, J.T. Sawyer, and Peter Jamison.

I can’t think of anything else that won’t reveal too many plot points, so that’s all you’re getting for now.  I will, in the weeks following, be releasing the first two chapters for download (if I remember how that is!), as well as a soundtrack list and ideal casting.  Stay tuned!  And please, check out Cemetery Tours and, if you enjoy it, leave me a review!

If you don’t like it, please don’t review it.  😉

Speaking of reviews, I found out today that you can review your own books on GoodReads.  I decided to leave Cemetery Tours a nice, modest little review.

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