A Novel is Born

My dear friend and talented children’s author, Paula Walker Baker, has just finished the first draft of her first novel! I’m so excited for her! ❤

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I am happy and excited to say that in between the Jack Learns Series of Books, I have completed my first novel!  The Jack Learns Series of Books is one book out and has two more yet to be published. I am pushing to get them out before school as one of the books is entitled “Jack Learns about Bullies” and the other is “Jack Learns about Learning.” The latter is a book in which Jack learns that everyone learns in different ways- that we don’t all learn by reading instructions or hearing instructions, but that different people have different ways of learning. I feel it’s important to teach that early as it is sometimes a misunderstood concept. Misunderstood concepts lead to bullying and so it is best taught in the early years.  “Jack Learns to Grill”, the first in the series is just a playful ditty to introduce Jack…

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Focus

Hi, friends!

I haven’t been very good at keeping up with y’all.  Sorry about that.  I’ve seen two out-of-town friends this week and have been hiking and swimming and bowling despite my body telling me that it’s feeling sick and that I need to slow down a little bit and today… it just kind of crashed.

Still, I want to try and get some work done because I have been playing way too much for someone who wants to get two more books out by the end of this year.  Play is a wonderful thing, and I want to spend as much time with my out-of-town friends (and my in-town friends as well) as I can, but I do need to focus.  I can’t lose sight of my goals and what I want to accomplish.

Since I was little, I’ve always been a very goal-oriented person.  I’m like those mice in Who Moved My Cheese.  I have to be working toward something or else I just don’t know what i’m doing.  Right now, I’m working toward getting the next Cemetery Tours book written.  My goal is to have the first draft of the manuscript done by the end of the month so that I can get it to my editors and published by late September/early October.  Then, I hope to have the next Boy Band book out by December.  Overly ambitious?  Perhaps.  But if I don’t feel like the books are high-quality enough or worth publishing, then I won’t.

So yeah, getting those two books out by the end of the year are my short-term goals.  Lately, however, I’ve been thinking a lot about long-term goals.  It used to be those long-term goals that drove me, but lately life has been so busy that I’ve only had time to really think about the short-term.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s good to have both short and long-term goals.  Those long-term goals, I think, inspire short-term goals.  For example, my desire to succeed as an adult drove me to try my hardest in school.  Well, high school anyway.  By the time I got to college and grad school, I really just wanted to graduate.  Even then, however, my hopes and dreams for the future continued to drive me.

I know I’ve shared my Bucket List of things I’ve already done (https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/extraordinary/).  I did that because, even though I think it’s wonderful and good to have dreams of the future, it’s also a good idea to acknowledge the good things that have already happened in life.  Counting your blessings, as it were.  However, I don’t think I’ve posted my actual Bucket List here, my dreams of what I hope my life will be.  Maybe I haven’t shared them because I’m afraid they won’t come true.  I’m not sure.  Whatever, the reason, these aren’t all of my goals, just a few of them.

1) Travel.  My dream destinations are: Australia, New Zealand, North Carolina, Alaska, back to Scotland, New England, London, and Paris.

2) Become a NYT bestselling author by the time I’m 30.

3) Renovate my parents’ house.

4) Do something good for homeless animals and endangered species around the world and work with a marine mammal/sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center.

5) Own a beach house.

I have several other smaller specific ones, such as celebrate Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts and go see a movie at the drive-in (I can’t believe I still haven’t done that one).  But I think those five I listed are the ones I dream about the most.

What do y’all dream about?

Sorting Characters

Alright, this post is definitely more work-related that my last one full of trees and whimsy.

Every once in a while, whenever my sister and I are feeling particularly nostalgic for our days at Hogwarts, we make a list of all our favorite fictional characters and sort them into one of the four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw (the best!), or Slytherin.  As I was driving around the other day, I thought, “Hey… I should sort MY characters!”

I consulted my sister on the matter, since she’s an even bigger Potterhead than I am (and yes, I do admit that).  Taking her opinions into consideration, this is the Sorting Selection that I’ve come up with.  Enjoy.

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Michael SinclarSelf-Imposed Slytherin

Okay, I know this sounds weird.  Hear me out.  Originally, my sister thought I should sort Michael into either Gryffindor or Hufflepuff.  The problem is, I don’t see Michael as particularly brave.  He’s also gone out of his way his entire life to manipulate people into believing he’s something he’s not.  He himself has been hiding from his true nature.  Furthermore, even though I don’t believe he’s dark or troublesome, he definitely sees himself that way.  I think Luke would see him as a Hufflepuff, and Kate would most certainly see him as a Gryffindor, but I think Michael himself views himself as a Slytherin.  Not because he’s particularly ambitious or cunning, but because, frankly, he’s haunted, and he has never seen himself in a positive light.

Kate AveryRavenclaw

I was torn for a while between sorting Kate into Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.  I was leaning toward Gryffindor at first because she’s so outgoing and up for new adventures, but then when my sister said she should be in Ravenclaw I realized that really is where Kate belongs.  She’s very creative, which is a defining trait of Ravenclaws.  She’s also cautious and she definitely tends to over-analyze things.  She’s clever, but thankfully, she’s not snooty about it.  Ravenclaw is definitely the place for Kate.

Luke Rainer: Gryffindor

Again, I debated for a while if Luke was going to be a Gryffindor or a Slytherin.  Although he comes off as ambitious, the truth is, he’s actually not.  He’s just very passionate.  He even admits in the first book that he doesn’t care about success or ratings.  He just wants people to know the truth about the afterlife and the paranormal.  Luke is brave, probably to the point of being reckless, and incredibly loyal to the people he loves.  He most certainly belongs in Gryffindor.

Eugene Brinkley (Brink): Hufflepuff

There’s no way Brink would ever be anything other than a Hufflepuff.  He’s just there for a good time.  He’s funny, he’s light-hearted, he’s easy-going.  He’s alway honest.  He’s a great friend.

Gavin Avery: Gryffindor

Gavin was hard to place.  Originally, my sister and I both thought he might be a Slytherin, but then we kind of realized that he’s not cunning or ambitious in the least.  He, like Brink, is kind of just there for a good time.  Gavin grew up, as Kate puts is, as the “golden boy” of the family.  He never got in trouble, always got good grades, but as he got older, I think he turned into a bit of a rebel.  Gryffindor seems to suit him.

BOY BAND

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Melissa Parker (Mel): Hufflepuff

Mel, to me, has always been a Hufflepuff.  She’s friendly, she’s very go-with-the-flow, she’s innocent, almost to the point of being a little naive, but she’s incredibly loyal to her friends.  She’s not one for picking fights or drama.  She knows who she loves and she tries her best to stand up for them, even though any sort of confrontation I think really goes against her nature.  She’s happy to be behind the scenes.  She’s very much an observer, and she’s also “unafraid of toil.”  Classic Hufflepuff.

Sam MorneauGryffindor

At the very beginning, Sam was one of the members of the band who believed that The Kind of September could make it.  I think he probably believed it more than anyone else, and he was the one really determined to make it happen.  He’s willing to take chances and risk it all, and I think he’s actually quite brave for it.  He’s loud and happy and outgoing, and though he does have a thoughtful side, he’s not really one to think before he leaps.  He just dives into whatever he does, no questions asked.

Josh Cahill: Hufflepuff

Josh is kind of like Brink in the sense that he’s just there to have fun.  He’s always cheerful, he’s sweet and unassuming, he’s goofy and hilarious.  He doesn’t like drama and never goes looking for trouble.  Josh is a most certainly a Hufflepuff.

Joni ForemanSlytherin

Even though she’s not even a member of the band, Joni is definitely the most ambitious of the entire group.  She’s very career and goal-oriented.  It takes a while to get her to open up.  Even her best friend, Mel, admits that she’s not much of a hugger and very rarely shows her soft side.  After having her heart broken at a young age, Joni is very guarded with her emotions, almost to the point of being a little cold and withdrawn.  She’s incredibly smart and all of her friends know that it’s never a good idea getting on her bad side.

Cory Foreman: Gryffindor

Joni’s twin brother Cory is a Gryffindor.  Although he was a good student, he’s not nearly as smart or as ambitious as his sister.  He’s usually very level-headed, but his relationship with Tara Meeks has made him a bit love-crazy.  Infatuation, unfortunately, happens to the best of us.  And Gryffindor Cory Foreman is no exception.

Oliver Berkley: Ravenclaw

Sweet, thoughtful, and a little reserved, The Kind of September’s token Brit is also the group’s only Ravenclaw.  Oliver is mature, introverted, clever, and witty when he wants to be.  He’s also harboring a secret crush, but despite being a member of the hottest boy band on the planet, he’s too shy to tell her.

Jesse Scott: Slytherin

Jesse is the group’s resident rock-and-roll bad boy, even though he’s not actually very good at it.  He loves animals and is very active in the charities that he supports.  Despite his heart of mostly gold, however, Jesse is still a Slytherin.  You never really know his motives for anything and more often than not, you only see what he wants you to see.  He’s a bit more cunning than he lets on and he values his freedom and independence above anything else, and he very rarely lets anything stand in the way of what he wants.

Thank God for the Dreams

That didn’t come true.

That sounds weird, right?  But in college, I had a very, very different life planned out for myself.  I didn’t have any dreams of being a writer.  I had no intention of getting my Master’s degree or starting up my own company.  And I certainly never expected to find myself working at a summer camp.  My dreams were way different, and if they had come true, I don’t think I’d have anything that I have today that is worth having.

I think there are experiences you’re supposed to have and people that are destined to be in your life.  I believe that because I wouldn’t know three of my very best friends had my high school dreams come true, or had I not received a flyer in the mail about a small summer camp up at Lake Texoma.  How weird is that?  To think that that one little piece of paper kind of altered my destiny?  It was a total whim, applying for a lifeguard/counselor’s position up there.  But I did and I got the job.  And because of that one little whim, that one little slip of destiny, I got to spend yesterday hiking with these lovely people (and puppies).

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Every time I’m around them, I can’t help but think about how happy I am that I took that chance, followed that whim.  We’re supposed to be in each others’ lives.  That’s all there is to it.  And that’s an awesome feeling.

I love having them, too, because we all enjoy spending time in beautiful places such as this… Straight out of a fairy tale.

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Bookmarks

Today’s goal is to design bookmarks that don’t look like I barely know how to use Photoshop (which may not be altogether untrue…).  Here’s what I’ve got so far.

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Right now, I like the black and white one and one with the flower the best.  Not too thrilled with the one in the middle.  I just don’t feel like there’s anything really special about it… And it looks like I made it in Photoshop.  Oh well.  I’ll keep playing around with it and see what I come up with later today!

Back to Business

After an extremely busy weekend of work and play (though admittedly, I felt it was more play), it is time to get back down to the daily grind.  Of course, for the self-employed author, the daily grind is actually quite enjoyable, so I’m not complaining.  Still, I’ve kind of been in Self-Congratulatory-Fun mode since Comic Con ended and I need to get back to my Okay-You-Are-Building-Your-Future-You-Need-To-Be-Serious-And-Stay-Focused mode.

And even as I’m writing this, I just took a break to go buy “Cups” on iTune.  Focus, Jackie, focus!

Okay, so what do I need to focus on, exactly?  That’s a good question. The two big ones are

1) My signing at Half-Price Books on June 24.

Originally, I had thought that my signing on June 24 would just be for Boy Band, but Half-Price has since contacted me and asked if I would bring all three books!  Of course, I am more than happy to do so.  I need to get to ordering those books, however.  I also need to restock on all my fun giveaway stuff, like postcards and bookmarks.  Comic Con kind of wiped me clean (which is a good thing!).  But I need to stay on top of all that.

2) Cemetery Tours 3.

As I told everyone at Comic Con, I plan on releasing the third Cemetery Tours late September-early October, just in time for Halloween!  That means I have a LOT of work to do between now and then.  I know where the book is going to go, but I am also going back and re-writing and thanks to events and a lot of weird life things, I’m afraid I’ve fallen a bit behind.  June is going to be my catch-up month. I do have a teaser board up and going on Pinterest, if you’d like to check it out and see what may or may not be in store for our haunted heroes (OMG that sounded so cheesy… I apologize): https://www.pinterest.com/windtrailpub/teaser-board-cemetery-tours-3/

I’m especially eager to get back to work on my Cemetery Tours series because of all the enthusiastic feedback I’ve gotten from readers, especially those I’ve met at recent book events and fellow authors. Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.21.05 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.21.14 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.20.53 PM

So much love!

I’ve also been playing around with the idea of redesigning the covers to the series.  I love the covers I have now, masterfully created by graphic designer Benjamin Durham, but the thing is, I used ShutterStock images.  After designing the cover to Boy Band, I’m realizing that I think I prefer using my own images.  I don’t have to pay for rights and there’s no limits on how I use that image.  So, that’s something else to think about.  If you have copies of Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds now, congratulations! You might have limited first edition covers!

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Love to all!

Dallas Comic Con 2015

I spent my last three days on my feet, talking loudly, and telling people about my books. My feet hurt. My back hurts. My throat hurts. My voice is still hoarse.

All in all, it was the best weekend ever.

I’m not kidding, y’all.  Dallas Comic Con was awesome.  It was busy and it was colorful and it was so full of delightful, creative people and all kinds of fangirly goodness.  It was incredible.  I met so many cool people (several of whom were aspiring writers) and made so many exciting, nerdy memories.  I’m telling you, this one is going to be hard to beat.

Perhaps best of all, I connected with so many people who loved to read and to write!  They were enthusiastic and eager to talk about books.  I even sold out of Between Worlds!

I also had two of my best friends in the world, Kat and Rachel (AKA Rat), there to help me (and to geek out over all the Harry Potter stuff)!

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Some of the awesome people I met include…

The Daughter of Athena AKA the REAL daughter of author Andrea Stehle, author of Gods of Arcadia: Daughter of Athena… https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23448104-gods-of-arcadia

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Voice Actress Cherami Leigh… http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0473873/

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The Guardians of the Galaxy…

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KISS…

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This adorable puppy named Lily…

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The DFW Ghostbusters… https://www.facebook.com/DFWGhostbusters

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This Scarecrow who is supposed to be terrifying but is actually quite friendly and tells silly jokes…

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The Jurassic Park jeep…

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And this adorable little R2.

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Infinite love and thanks to my friend James William Peercy, author of The Wall Outside series, for inviting me to be a part of this convention!  I can’t wait for next time!