Snowfall

Hi, friends!  Today’s post is not going to be a long one because I have a few projects that need to be finished by tomorrow.  That being said, the new manuscript is in the hands of one editor and flying off to the second this afternoon.  Yay!  So excited!

So, instead of a lengthy post, please enjoy some pictures of the snow that fell yesterday morning.  Expecting more tomorrow.  Oh joy.

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No Time for Celebration

Last night, I finished revisions on Boy Band.  The next step, of course, is to run one last spelling and grammar check before sending it off to my dearly beloved editors.  One of them lives in California, so I have to email it to her.  That’s great.  I can get it sent off tonight.  But my other editor lives right down the street and I like to print it off and give it to her.  Unfortunately, I do not own a printer, so in order to print off full manuscripts, I have to drive to Staples.

Well guess what?

THERE’S STILL ICE ON THE ROAD.

Guess what else?

IT’S SUPPOSED TO GET WORSE TOMORROW.

That’s right.  Texas is planning on 2-4 inches of snow.  I mean, snow is a lot better than ice, but I still can’t get out and drive in it!  All the stereotypes are true, folks.  Texans cannot drive in snow or ice.  If you get behind the wheel in this stuff, you are asking for it.  I speak from experience.  I totaled my car back in 2010 because I thought it was no big deal.  Nope.  It is a big deal.  I was lucky enough to walk away with just a scratch, but I am through taking chances when it comes to ice and snow.

So, that’s my snow rant.  The good news is I have brownie mix.  And a LOT of books I haven’t read yet.  So the cabin fever isn’t too bad.  Still, I REALLY miss the sun.  The sun is my friend.  I like the sun.

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I say there’s no time for celebration, however, because I have two new projects that I need to have finished by Saturday.  I’m really excited about them, but I also really need to buckle down and focus on them as well.  That’s good, because I like being busy, but it’s unfortunate because I just started reading a new book and it’s really good and I want to finish it and do nothing else and the cold, grey, weather outside is only making me want to do nothing except lie around and read even more.  Yes, I know, that was a very long sentence.  I’m sorry.

Good things are happening, y’all.  In spite of the cold.

Self-Published Authors are Real Authors

Over the weekend, I read an article. I’m not going to mention names or titles, but if you’re an independent author, you probably know which one I’m talking about.  In his article, the author lists many reasons why self-publishers should not be considered real authors.  Believe it or not, the article didn’t make me angry.  It did irk me enough to write this post (twice – I had just finished when I accidentally clicked a different tab – deleted everything), but to be honest, it really just made me roll my eyes.  It was written with such ignorance.  Clearly, this guy knows nothing about independent authors.

There’s a stereotype out there that independent authors are the ones who aren’t good enough to be published by a big traditional publishing house.  We’re the second-stringers who are so desperate for notoriety and publicity, and perhaps even fame and fortune, that we publish our own work ourselves because no one else will touch it.  Let me tell you right now, if writing books and going through all the work is just for fame and fortune, I can think of like, a hundred different ways to try to go about that, all of which would be significantly easier and less of a hassle than publishing your own book.

Don’t get me wrong.  Writing and publishing is a joy, one of the greatest joys in the world.  But it’s also a lot of work, work that I wouldn’t be willing to put into anything that I didn’t want to do with all my heart and soul.  Independent authors don’t have the luxury, the resources, the funds, or the man-power of a traditional publishing house.  True, I have editors and a cover designer whom I appreciate all the way to the moon and back, but everything else, I’ve done on my own.  But I don’t regret it for a moment.  By choosing the independent route, I retain all rights to my work.  I never have to worry about contracts or bottom lines.  There’s a great deal of freedom in the indie world.  There is also a great deal of love.  Independent publishing is a labor of love.  And it always will be.

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In related news, I spent yesterday reading Snow Globe by my friend and fellow author, Jeanne Skarsiaris yesterday.

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It’s a great book about a teenaged psychic, thrilling and the perfect read for a cold, dreary day.  Also, I’m quoted on the back!  How cool is that?

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You can read the rest of my review and the reviews of others here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24847594-snow-globe?ac=1

Finally, my dear friend and editor, Hannah Alvarez, is in the process of getting her new business up and going.  She’s designed a line of mix-and-match stuffed animals called Snapdragons and they are simply adorable.  Her campaign will be coming to Kickstarter in April.

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Everyone have a wonderful Monday.  And stay warm.  We’re iced in down here.  Perfect writing weather!

Busy Bee

I haven’t been a very good blogger these last few days.  Part of the reason is because I have been under the weather and have had to practically force myself up off the couch to do anything.  Blegh.  But the other reason is because, despite my pitiful existence this week, I’ve actually been pretty busy.

I’ve been helping my friend Paula format her new children’s book, Jack Learns to Grill.  It’s an adorable book about her pet dingo, Jack.  She’s planning a whole series and I’ve got to tell you, I can’t wait to see more of her books and where they can take her.

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I’ve also been in communication with a fellow blogger and future author, Danielle Miller, who is celebrating her third year in the WordPress community!  As part of her celebration, she’s looking to get to know and promote authors and I’m honored to be a part of it! For more information, check out her blog here: https://danielleelisemiller.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/stories-unfolded-blogiversary-free-promotion-for-authors/

Or follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/elise_dani

Finally, I’m about halfway through with my Boy Band revisions.  I’m really excited about this book, y’all. I know I keep talking about it, but I’m REALLY excited. I really think it’s going to be awesome.

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And on that note, I’m off to revise and listen to Disney music before I run off to a dinner meeting.  Have a good weekend, y’all!

Lent

Today, Ash Wednesday, mark the first day of Lent.  In the Episcopal church, we observe Lent by trying to better our lives and the lives around us by either giving up something or taking something on.  For years now, I’ve given up Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook because I’m absolutely addicted and it’s a huge time-suck.  Seriously, I’ve wasted hundreds of valuable hours playing that stupid game.  Every year I give it up, I think, “Maybe this will be the year I give it up for good.”  Never happens.  Every Easter, I’m right back on that game, trying to match as many gems as I can to get the high score.

This year, however, I’d like to do something a little more significant than giving up an online computer game.  One of my goals for over a year now has been to live a less materialistic life and to donate things that I no longer use (books don’t count – I always reread books).  I’ve actually been really good about cleaning out and finding things to give away, but every time I get rid of stuff, I feel like new stuff rolls in to take its place!  I’m not sure if there’s some sort of strange universal equation that states that whatever leaves the house must be replaced, but something is up.  For some reason, even though I donate bags and bags, it never feels less cluttered.  I feel constantly burdened by things I don’t need, so this Lenten season, I’m going to really focus my time on cleaning out and donating.

For the record, my family donates all of our stuff to Operation Kindness, which benefits homeless animals.  We’re big animal lovers.

My second goal is to visit every independent book store in the metroplex.  Although I feel very involved in the online book community, I haven’t been as active in the real life book community, and that needs to change.  I live in the third largest arts district in the nation.  I know there are opportunities out there.  I just need to be brave enough to go out and take them.

My other goals are pretty generic, and ones that I really have all year, like spending more time in nature.  I’m always happiest outside.  Nature is better for my mental and spiritual well-being than anything.  Even more so than reading or writing.  Yes, I said it.  I’m so thankful that spring is just around the corner. Frigid temperatures really take a toll on my time spent outside.

So, there you have it.  My goals for the next forty days.  Of course, I’ll keep writing and revising.  After all, yesterday marked TEN WEEKS until Boy Band is released!  I can see the finish line, but there’s still so much to be done!  As always, it will all be worth it.

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Weekend Recap

Hi, friends!

I hope you had a splendid weekend and Valentine’s Day full of love. And if not love, then at least full of chocolate.  Since my boyfriend, Richard Armitage, is out of town shooting a movie or something, my mom and I had a Valentine’s Mother Daughter Date to the bowling alley!  It was great.

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It also got me thinking that a bowling alley would be a REALLY cool place for a book release party!  I’m seriously considering it for the release of Boy Band.  But then, I also have a lot of cool ideas, decoration-wise, for the party, so it probably won’t happen in a bowling alley.  But still.

Sunday, I celebrated Galentine’s Day with my BFF, Jessica.  We went out to dinner and then went back to her place to watch a Disney movie and drink wine.  Unfortunately, she does not have very good wine openers so I ended up prying the cork out with steak knives.

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The lesson to be learned here?  Nothing stands between an Episcopalian and wine. Nothing.

Yesterday was a blast.  My other BFF, Hannah, flew in from California to visit her parents and their new farmhouse.  I hopped in my car and drove the two hours to see them.  I love being out in the country.  It’s so free and open.  No traffic.  No big buildings.  Just Earth and sky and road.  Love!

Anyway, their land is amazing.  It reminded me of how much I want a getaway cabin one day.

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I love Texas.  But you know what I love more than Texas?  This puppy.

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His name is Krager and he is the cutest, sweetest, most lovable dog you will ever meet.  I wanted to steal him so bad.  Sadly, my kitty would NOT approve.  She likes being an only child and would probably try to banish me or something if I brought home a dog.  Otherwise, Krager would have been mine.  I would have found a way.

So, now that my weekend of adventures is over, it’s back to work.  And I do mean WORK.  I HAVE to get these revisions finished ASAP.  I’m also in the process of helping my friend Paula format her first children’s book, which will be released very soon.  You can keep up to date with her writings here: https://paulawalkerbaker.wordpress.com

Tomorrow is also the first day of Lent.  I’m aiming to make some big changes in my life.  We’ll see if that actually happens.  But I’m going to try!  But more on that tomorrow.

I hope you all have a fantastic Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras.  Go eat some pancakes!

Limitless

I follow a lot of authors on Facebook.  One of those traditionally published authors just released her second book, a sequel to her debut young adult novel.  I really enjoyed her first book and I’m very much looking forward to reading the second.

Today, she posted an answer to the question: Will there be a third book in the series?

Her response surprised me.  She said that there would only be a third book if the second book did well and if her publishing company bought a third book.  She went on to explain that publishing is a business and a third book depended solely on how well the second book sells.

As proud as I am to be an independent author and to exclusively own the rights to my own books, of course, I’ve always harbored a bit of envy for those authors who’ve been traditionally published.  I want my books to have the same recognition, the same level of success, as books that have been released by big publishing houses.  It’s a long shot to be sure, but I believe that it can be done.  It has been done.

What really got me thinking, however, was the part about how a third book would only happen if the second book did well.  Even if the story, the characters, demand more, if there aren’t sales to back it up, the saga ends with book two.  Now, I’m fairly certain her second book will do just as well as the first and that a third one is all but guaranteed (at least I hope… I really liked her first book!), but her answer made me realize just how much freedom I have as an independent author as opposed to an author bound to the revenue and regulations of a big publishing company.

It doesn’t matter how well my books sell.  I’m free to write whatever I want.  Cemetery Tours 3 could not sell a single copy and I’d still be able to write and publish Cemetery Tours 4.  As an independent author, yes, I’d like to make money and yes, I’d like for this to be my career and my livelihood.  I want to spend the rest of my life writing books.  But I’m free to write for myself.  I am able to write the stories I want to write, not because of money or ratings or success, but because it’s a story that needs to be written.  As of right now, the story is incomplete, and until it’s finished, I’m going to keep writing.  And I realize now that I am so lucky to be able to keep writing.  As an author, I’m limitless.  We all are.  And isn’t that the way art, passion, life itself, are supposed to be?

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A Dream is a Wish

So, I know I said I wouldn’t be posting at all today, but I got out of jury duty at 11.  Seriously, it was so uneventful.  I sat for three hours in this enormous room and reread Mockingjay for three hours.  It was so boring, in fact, that it does not deserve its own blog post.  But you know, when it comes to jury duty, I’m okay with boring.  My number wasn’t even called.  Never had to go back.  I will take it.

That’s why, instead of writing about the three hours I spent doing absolutely nothing, I’m going to write about the new Cinderella movie coming out next month.

Y’all, it looks AMAZING.

Now, I didn’t see Disney’s first fairy tale brought to life, Maleficent, for a few reasons.  First of all, I heard there was a lot of CGI battles and those bore me.  Second, I don’t like the idea of trying to redeem the self-proclaimed Mistress of all Evil.  That was part of what made her such a great villain in the original. She was so evil that she threatened to kill this kid just because her parents snubbed her.  That’s EVIL.  I don’t like that they tried to make goofy King Stefan the bad guy or make it seem like Maleficent really loved Aurora.  Sorry, that just doesn’t work for me.  But onto Cinderella.

This movie looks awesome.  First off, there’s no CGI or crazy battles.  That’s an automatic plus for me.  Second, the previews are absolutely gorgeous.  Colorful, magical, amazing costumes, scenery, set designs… If nothing else, this will be a very aesthetically pleasing movie.  The music in the previews is incredible as well.  I get chills every time I watch the trailer (and I’ve watched it several times).  It looks that good.

For another thing, it features an all-star cast.  I was excited enough to see Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) as the Fairy Godmother and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) as Lady Tremaine, the evil step-mother.  But then I realized that Rob Stark (Richard Madden) is Prince Charming (he’s also SCOTTISH) and I thought my inner fangirl might actually keel over from all the amazing.  What finally did her in, however, was finding out that Derek Jacobi, AKA the BBC’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, AKA the greatest Shakespearian actor of modern times, if not all history, is playing the King.  I cannot handle the greatness.  I actually cannot.

As if all of that wasn’t enough of a reason to completely freak out over this movie, it’s directed by Kenneth Branagh.  Not only another phenomenal Shakespearian actor (he played Hamlet in a film adaptation which also starred – wouldn’t you know it – Derek Jacobi as Claudius!), Mr. Branagh is also known in the Potterverse as the one and only GILDEROY LOCKHART.  I’m telling y’all, I really don’t think my fangirl heart can take much more.

So, there you have it.  My list of reasons why I am absolutely ecstatic about Disney’s latest cinematic masterpiece, and I do truly believe this will be a masterpiece.

The Revision Cycle

I think I’ve mentioned before that before any of my books go to my editors, they first go chapter by chapter to my sister.  Every writer needs someone whom they trust to be completely honest, especially when it comes to what needs to be revised.  For me, that’s my sister.  For one thing, she doesn’t have to worry about telling me the truth or hurting my feelings because I have to love her no matter what.  For another thing, she reads more than anyone I know.  She reads more than I do.  And I read a lot.  But the thing about KJ is that she knows a good book when she reads one.  She knows what it takes, what works and what doesn’t.  I also know she’d never let me publish anything she thought was lousy, not for my benefit, but because she doesn’t want people reading it and thinking, “Wow, KJ’s sister sucks.”

Today, I received not only my newest manuscript (and let me tell you, she poured her heart and soul into it.  She did a great job with the Cemetery Tours books, but I think she’s REALLY excited about this new one) but a box full of Valentines presents – nail polish, earrings, a mix CD, a key chain, lip balm, markers, and a copy of a magazine full of One Direction pictures.  All the makings for a perfect girls night.  I just wish she was here to share it with me.

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Now that the manuscript is back in my hands, however, the real work is about to begin.  I love every part of the writing and publishing process, but revisions can be grueling.  I try to stay as organized as possible when I go through and make changes, but it can get confusing.  I can’t take too long with revisions, however, because I need to get this manuscript to my editors, especially since the book is due for release April 21!  I’ve told y’all before, but I am really excited about this book.  It’s so different from Cemetery Tours, but it’s so fun.

Of course, I’m still writing Cemetery Tours 3.  I started chapter 17 last night, and it’s taking some new and interesting turns that I didn’t expect.  I hope readers like it as much as the first two.  That’s something I worry about, you know?  That it won’t live up to the others.  That the first two were awesome but the third one is crap.  I know writers are supposed to exude confidence and self-assurance, but I think the truth is we all worry about how our work will be received.  We all want our book to be someone’s favorite book.  One of my dreams is to have someone write fanfiction about my characters one day!  When that day comes, I’ll know I’ve made it.

Have an awesome day, all!  I won’t be posting tomorrow because I have my very first JURY DUTY.  If you want to follow me on Twitter, however, I’ll try to do some live-tweeting.  Not about the case or anything confidential, of course,  but about how bored I am and maybe a picture of my shoes.

Twitter: JackieSmith114

Peace out.

Mars One

Yesterday, my friend told me about Mars One.  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a non-profit project and its goal is to send the first humans to Mars in 2024.  Hundreds of thousands have applied to be a part of this historic movement and they’re currently in the process of narrowing it down.  Sounds interesting, right?  A chance for civilians to go to space?  To be the first people on Mars?  Why not?

Well, it turns out there’s a catch.  This is a one way flight.  You go to Mars, you don’t come back.  History will remember your name, but you are destined to die on Mars.

Let me say that I really admire the people who’ve signed up for this project.  It’s an enormous sacrifice to make in the name of human exploration, curiosity, and adventure, which are all very noble causes.  I honestly think we need more people like that.  That being said, however, my butt is never leaving this planet.

I’d be terrified of going into space even if I was guaranteed to come back.  I don’t like flying.  I don’t like small spaces.  And I really like Earth.

As a species, we humans really take our home planet for granted.  It’s something I think most of us are aware of, but it’s not something we really take the time to think about.  Maybe because we can’t imagine a world where trees and oceans and blue skies don’t exist.  But these individuals who are volunteering to live and die on Mars are about to experience just that.  No plants.  No oceans.  No nature whatsoever.  Furthermore, they will be saying goodbye to everyone they’ve ever loved.  I don’t know about you, but I could not get by without a cat.  Or my family and friends, you know, but I really need a cat.

A lot of us complain about our lives.  That might just be part of the human condition.  We’re never fully satisfied with what we have, even though we’ve actually been given a great deal.  Earth is a great place to live.  It was designed that way.

What’s funny is this whole Mars One conversation comes only a day after I was forced to explain to my friend why I don’t like sci-fi.  At least, sci-fi set in outer space.  If The Hunger Games is sci-fi, then I love that, but outer space sci-fi is just not my thing.  For some reason, it makes me feel really uncomfortable.  I think it’s due to a couple of things.

First of all, I’m scared of aliens.  Ironically, I love alien invasion movies, Signs, The Fourth Kind, etc… But movies with aliens that walk around like humans and are supposed to be your friends?  They creep me out and I don’t know why.  I love the aliens that are actually supposed to freak you out.  But the Yodas and the Wookies and the other friendly extra-terrestrial types?  Eeeugh.  I’m not a huge fan of robots either.

Secondly, I don’t like not being able to see the ground.  I remember watching Star Trek and Star Wars and wondering, What is holding these space buildings up?  Where is the ground?  Here’s the thing.  If you fall off the edge of the building or the sidewalk, you die.  Or you get sucked into outer space and then you die. I like planets.  I like the ground.  The ground is good.

So friends, this concludes my Why Earth Is The Best Planet To Live On talk.  For the record, I really do love learning about the planets and the stars.  I think they’re beautiful and magical and wonderful and full of new and exciting mysteries.  However, I will be appreciating them from Earth.  It’s just where I belong.

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Not Mars, but the best shot of outer space that I’ve got.