Professional Clamdigging

This afternoon, I had the privilege of celebrating a friend’s book release. As it turns out, this friend is my high school English teacher and mentor, Mr. Lund. I’ve mentioned him before on the blog. He’s the kind of teacher who earned the respect of all of his students, who genuinely enjoyed teaching, and who inspired all of us dumb high school kids to love Shakespeare and Dante and Homer and Chaucer. I plan on conducting an interview with him that I’ll publish sometime in early August, but I just wanted to share his book with you now. It’s called Loving Grammar: Mr. Lund’s Guide to Professional Clamdigging.

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You can follow him on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/LovingGrammar
And check out his website here: http://lovinggrammar.com

This is a great book for those who are learning English, for writers who struggle with grammar, or for high school students! And it’s funny.

In other news, I am still hard at work on the third Cemetery Tours book (which I am so, so, SO excited about) and the new series. I can’t wait to share more about them! I went to the library this afternoon and checked out a lot of books for research. I might be a nerd, because I really love researching things that I’m interested in and that will help me write a book. It’s all so cool and fascinating!

Hope everyone has a pleasant and wonderful day!

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Where the Music Meets the Ocean

Note: I apologize for the onslaught of photographs.
Also, the title of this blog post is a lyric to a song by the Zac Brown Band called Jump Right In. It was pretty much all we listened to on this trip.

Last week, my sister and I went to the beach. It was awesome.

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The only downside was that we stayed in a hotel with no wifi. Yes, those still exist.

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The good news was that there was a Jurassic Park marathon on all week.

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But enough about hotels. The trip itself was amazing. We spent a morning at Fort Morgan, a civil war site. It was also used in the first world war.

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We ate a lot of great food.

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For the record, if you ever eat at Lulu’s, they will give you the option of waiting a really long time to be seated or being seated immediately at one of the bars. Guess which option we took?

Also, Lulu’s is owned by the sister of the one and only Jimmy Buffett! How cool is that?

On the trip, we also saw hibiscuses and dolphins.

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We also saw boats…

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A sandcastle…

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A crab…

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A lesser electric ray in a bucket…

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And a lot of herons.

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I’d actually been complaining throughout the entire trip that I just wasn’t seeing any herons. Then, our last night there, we hung out at the big fishing pier and saw no less than five great blue herons! I was very happy.

The rest of the time, we just kicked around the beach, which to be honest, was my favorite part.

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Honestly, there is no place I’d rather be.

Medicine Park Paranormal Fair

My Saturday began at 4:45 AM. I am a night owl, so that’s actually not to long after my natural bed time. However, I’d actually managed to get to sleep around 10:45 the night before, so I actually got around 6 hours.

After loading up my car, my dad (also my book-selling partner in crime) and I loaded up the car and made the three hour drive up to Medicine Park, Oklahoma.

It’s a really beautiful area.

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After I finished admiring the scenery, we went inside and set up the Cemetery Tours table.

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This is me with all the stuff… I was really excited to see that I look tan.

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The fair itself was really interesting. There were several venders and paranormal groups there. Also a few mediums and psychics, as well as a man who knew all about different rocks and crystals and ways to cleanse your home of bad spirits. I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been too much into the metaphysical. I don’t know what the different rocks and crystals mean, but it was pretty cool to learn.

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There were ghost hunters and paranormal investigators there as well!

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The highlight of the event, however, was when my friend and fellow author and WORDPRESS BLOGGER Sierra (http://permashift.wordpress.com) came to see me! It was so much fun hanging out with her and geeking out over the Lion King and books. She told me all about her service in the army and we bonded over a very nutritional Sonic lunch. Thank you so much for coming out, Sierra! I had so much fun meeting you!

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Near the end of the event, Tanya, who headed up the convention, announced that there would be a raffle drawing. Now, I never enter raffles because I never win, but I decided to enter anyway.

Guess what? I won something!

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It’s called a pendulum. I initially put my name in the drawing for it because I liked the color of the stone and I love dragonflies. But according to the guy who knew all about the rocks and crystals, the stone is a Sodalite and it represents the throat chakra (which I misunderstood as throat shocker). Anyway, it basically means that I don’t think before I speak, which is 110% accurate. My family is constantly making fun of me for my lack of filter.

All in all, it was a pretty awesome experience and I’m looking forward to more book and paranormal events like this one in the future. I sold several books, made a few new friends, and got to see a beautiful new town. Very worthwhile.

Hi Friends!

Well, I just slept for twelve hours straight.

After a wonderful week at the beach (pictures to follow), I had one day to relax, then yesterday I woke up at 4:45 AM to drive three hours up to Medicine Park, Oklahoma for a Paranormal Fair. It was so cool! I can’t wait to tell you all about it! But first, I need to finish editing the pictures.

Y’all are about to be bombarded by pictures. Consider yourselves warned.

I hope you all had a great week and are having a wonderful weekend! Talk to you soon!

Beach Week!

Dear friends and fellow bloggers,

I just wanted to stop by and let you know that I will be absent for the next week, as my sister and I are traveling to the BEACH.

Yes, I am bragging. But I also like to keep updated with you all as much as I can, and a week is a long time to go without posting. So there you go. Bragging is justified.

After I get back from the beach, I will have a day to relax and recharge before I head off to Oklahoma for a paranormal convention. Busy, busy, but lots of fun, and hopefully I will sell a few books and make a few new connections!

However, I will be keeping up with my Twitter and Instagram. If you have either, please follow me and I will happily follow you back!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackieSmith114
Instagram: http://instagram.com/jacquelineesmith

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Why Self-Marketing is Actually the Worst

As independent artists, musicians, and authors, it is up to us to spread the word about our work, our music, and our books. On top of that, we have to do so in a way that actually makes people want to invest in our products. Let me tell you right now, it is a huge pain. I’m a writer. I like to write. I’m a terrible salesperson. Yeah, I can recommend things to people, but for the most part, I like to let people choose what they want to buy on their own.

I’ve been published for about a year now, and I still think that self-marketing is awful. That’s not to say I don’t like talking about my books. I do! They’re one of my favorite things to talk about, along with dolphins, Harry Potter, and Scotland. I’m so proud of my books and I really think they’re awesome. But let’s be honest. Every author thinks his or her books are awesome. You’re never going to meet an author marketing his or her book by saying, “Yeah, I wrote it. It’s okay, I guess. It’s nothing great.” No! Every author is going to say, “This book is awesome!” And that’s good. Authors should be excited about their work.

Unfortunately, however, we authors tend to be very biased. An author is not going to think his or her work is anything but the best. And readers sometimes need more than an author’s word to convince them for that very reason. That’s why reviews and readers who enjoy your work are so important.

Personally, I’m not very good at playing the, “Are you ready for the next hot paranormal read? Check out Cemetery Tours by ME!” role. I feel like I sound like some sort of info-bot whenever I try. I’m a positive and overall happy person, but I’m also very blunt and to the point and I have an incredibly dry sense of humor. It’s so dry that I have friends who can’t tell when I’m joking. It’s not my style to treat my books like they’re something that needs to be hyped up.

Another reason self-marketing is the worst is that I always feel like I’m begging when I say things like, “Hey! Go buy my book, and if you like it, write a review! Please? I need reviews! It won’t take you very long! You have no idea how important this is to me.” Somehow, it feels like that translates to “PLEASE BUY MY BOOK SO I CAN EAT. I’M DESPERATE.”

Which, let’s be honest, in my case, it does.

The charade of confidence in self-marketing is an important one. But sometimes, I just really get sick of it. That’s not to say I’m not confident. I have the utmost confidence in my books. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have published them in the first place. My very first manuscript remains unpublished to this day because I know it’s bad and needs a LOT of revision. But Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds are good. That’s why they’re out there.

It’s also important, with self-marketing, to remember there is a fine line between good, honest self-promotion and HERE LET ME CRAM MY BOOK DOWN YOUR THROAT UNTIL YOU READ IT. Let me tell you it is hard to tread that line. As authors, we want to talk about our books and get people to read them. Furthermore, we want people to buy them so we can make some money! Maybe I’m supposed to say, “It’s all for the craft and I’d write for free,” which is true. I would totally write for the rest of my life no matter what. But come on. We all want to get paid for our work, and it’s not wrong to say so.

Here’s the deal. I want people to read my books and enjoy them. I want to keep writing. I finished chapter 6 of my new YA book last night. I’m also in the midst of writing CT3. I’m going to keep writing no matter what. And I will self-promote as much as I have to. I love my work, and I hope this post doesn’t sound like I’m complaining. I know the path I’ve chosen and self-marketing is just part of it. I love my path. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On that note, go buy my books.

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Facebook Like Exchange

Hi, friends!

Okay, it is cold. It’s the middle of July in TEXAS and it is cold. Hell has literally frozen over. I used my heater in my car today.

I USUALLY DON’T USE MY HEATER IN MY CAR UNTIL NOVEMBER.

This is Texas. This is a place where, if you think 100 degrees is hot, you are considered a wimp. We actually do not know how to function when it is July and it’s 68 degrees outside. That’s like, our WINTER.

Okay, winter is a little colder, but still. I actually needed a jacket today. IN JULY. You want to know where I was the last time I wore a jacket in July? Scotland. Because it’s cold there all the time. Texas is like, the land of heat and baking cookies inside your car because it’s so stinking hot out. It just doesn’t make sense. My brain is short-circuiting.

On the book front, however, I’ve been thinking. I’m really wanting to start expanding my social media outreach, so I’m proposing a Facebook Like Swap. If you’re reading this and you have a Facebook Like Page, stop by and like my page…

https://www.facebook.com/CemeteryToursSeries?ref_type=bookmark

… and leave me a message either there or here with a link to your page and I will reciprocate! I need to keep writing, but I also need to keep up with marketing and self-promotion (which, honestly, I kind of hate, but it is a necessary evil). It would mean a lot to me if you’d stop by and like the page, and like I said, I will like your page in return.

Have a pleasant evening! STAY WARM.

He Exclaimed, She Exclaimed

I’ve always found it interesting how certain things stay with you. One moment, one word, can impact the rest of your life, but you wouldn’t know it at the time. Twenty years later, however, and you find yourself still constantly thinking back to that moment or word.

One of my moments goes all the way back to second grade. We were learning about writing, and our teacher told us, “When you write dialogue, think of other words to use besides ‘said.’ ‘Said’ is okay to use occasionally, but use other words like ‘exclaimed’ or ‘shouted’ or ‘yelped.'” That really stayed with me, even though at the time, I had no idea that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

Last night, I was working on the second chapter of the third Cemetery Tours novel, or as it shall henceforth be called, CT3, and I found myself thinking back to that day in second grade. I wonder, had I been absent that day, would I be a completely different writer? Would I be a ‘said’ abuser? I like to think I wouldn’t be. I hope I’ve read enough books and have enough common sense to realize, hey! Saying ‘said’ multiple times in one chapter is a drag! But you never know. There were a lot of things I didn’t figure out until I was too old to not know better. For example, throughout my entire childhood, I was fully convinced that diamonds and gemstones came out of the ground looking like they do in jewelry. For the record, I blame that one on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

I’m having a lot of fun writing CT3, as well as continuing to develop the first book in a new series. I’m also getting a lot of positive feedback on Between Worlds, which comes as a huge relief. Well, not relief exactly. I knew I really liked the book. I’m just glad that other people like it too! I was afraid people wouldn’t think it was as good as the first one. Maybe I’m not supposed to admit that to potential readers, but I figure since people seem to really like it, then I’m okay.

Talk to y’all later!

Night of the Living Locusts

Okay, I’m going to get real serious with y’all. I hate bugs. Not all bugs. Butterflies and dragonflies are lovely. But the really gross kind? The roaches and the leaf bugs and the cicadas? Nope.

Locusts are right up there with the worst. This is not a matter of opinion. If we go back to Biblical times, we will notice that there was not a plague of butterflies or a plague of ladybugs. There was a plague of LOCUSTS. LOCUSTS are a PLAGUE. THEY ARE DISGUSTING. JUST LOOK AT THEM.

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EUGGH.

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EWWW.

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GROSS.

This evening, as I took a delightful walk around the park, I was thinking about everything I have to look forward to: the beach, book signings, new books, etc… when all of a sudden… A LOCUST LANDED ON MY SHOULDER. I WAS NOT HAPPY. I was even wearing bug-spray to deter mosquitoes who delight in feasting on my apparently delicious blood, but there was no deterring that locust!

After I heroically fought him off (read: screamed, slapped him off my shoulder, and ran away), ANOTHER locust dive-bombed me from a tree! I had to fight off no less than SEVEN locusts on what was supposed to be a pleasant evening stroll.

As miserable as that experience was, however, it was nothing compared to what may have been the most traumatizing night of my entire life.

The year was 1999. I was eleven years old and I was out at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with my friend Bobby and our dads. We all loved going to baseball games. It was one of our favorite summer activities.

That night, we were playing Tampa Bay. It started off like a normal baseball game. We watched batting practice, ate hot dogs and french fries, and cheered our lungs out for the Rangers.

Then night fell.

There were always a few bugs flying around the giant lights of the stadium, but they rarely ever bothered us. I usually didn’t even notice them. I was too fixated on the game.

If this was fiction, I would say that the crickets started swarming slowly, with one or two strays hopping around at our feet. But this isn’t fiction. This is real life.

Without any sort of warning whatsoever, crickets began falling from the sky. One moment, the sky was clear. The next, it was literally raining crickets. It was like an air raid of locusts. I was freaking out. One landed on my arm, one dive-bombed my dad’s drink. They were crunching beneath our feet and flying past my ears. After only a few minutes, I sought refuge inside the halls of the stadium, but one glance at the cricket-blackened walls told me I would find no sanctuary there. My only hope was the safety of the car, and ultimately, my home.

Dodging crickets, I ran back to my dad and begged him to take me home. He refused. He, like everyone else in the stadium, seemed totally unbothered by the onslaught of crickets. I didn’t understand why no one else was going absolutely out of their minds trying to shield themselves from the hoards of locusts. Where was their sanity? Did these people have no survival instincts whatsoever?

Upon realizing I was completely alone in my plight, I began to hyperventilate. It would go down as the one time in my life my dad has disappointed me as a father. There I was, panicking and dangerously close to passing out from sheer and utter terror, and he was sipping his cricket-fouled beer and watching the game! Like nothing was going on!

I’m not sure how long I sat there, waiting for the game to end, while the crickets continued to rain down on us, but finally, finally, my dad said that we could go home. I leapt up and clung to him, certain that with his height and strength, he could protect me from any bugs that may have threatened.

That was until a man tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Sir? You have a cricket on your collar.”

DONE. SO DONE.

Walking through the parking lot that night was it’s own special form of torture. With every step I took, I heard a sickening crunch of multiple crickets under my soles. It is a sound that has stayed with me to this day. I will never forget. And I will never fully recover.

The end.

Sunflowers and Swimming

Hi, friends!

I’ll be honest with you. This past week, I have not been a very good blogger. I haven’t been a very good writer either. I’ve worked on my two books a little bit, but for the most part, I’ve just been swimming and taking a lot of pictures of my sunflowers. These next few days are supposed to be rainy though, so I should have plenty of time to get back to my normal routine of actually being a writer.

Next week, I won’t be updating at all. My sister and I are going to the BEACH and then, the day after we get back, I’m off to Oklahoma for a paranormal convention to hopefully sell a few books!

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As much fun as I’m having with Between Worlds, I can’t forget about my first book. After all, I don’t want people reading the second book if they haven’t read the first! Where’s the fun in that? It’s like reading The Goblet of Fire before reading The Prisoner of Azkaban, which, okay, I did, but that was only because I looked everywhere for that book and I could not find it. I needed more Harry Potter. Not my fault.

Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds have both been selling pretty well since the latter was released. I’m still hoping for a few more reviews, but so far, I’m thrilled with how well they’ve both been doing. I don’t remember if I’ve shared this review or not, but it’s one of my absolute favorites that I’ve gotten so far, so I thought, what the heck? If I have shared it, then I can share it again.

http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/2014/06/cemetery-tours-jacqueline-e-smith.html

Oh, and also, I made a Pinterest board for my sunflowers.