Halloween Adventures

Well friends, this will be my last blog post until Tuesday at the earliest.  By then, Halloween will have come and gone and I will more than likely be in full blown Christmas mode.  I’m a Texas girl.  It happens.  Some stereotypes are true.

As for this weekend, two of my best friends and I will be road-tripping it (or kayaking, depending on how much it rains) down to Houston for the Texas Renaissance Festival.  A dear friend of mine, James William Peercy, participates in the festival every year (he writes fantasy: The Wall Outside series) and this weekend, the festival will be celebrating all things Halloween, the perfect opportunity to read a ghost story or two!

I have to admit, I’m quite excited.  I’ve been going to Ren Faires since high school, but I’ve never been a vendor, nor have I been to the big Houston one.  I’m used to the one that’s about three times smaller!  But I think it’s going to be amazing.  Of course, I still have a little bit of paperwork/a LOT of packing but I’ll get it all done.  The hardest part of any trip, of course, is leaving my sweet baby Midnight and my birdies, but my mom is going to take good care of them.  This will be my first Halloween away from my sweet black cat!  I don’t even want to think about it.

Anyway, since I won’t be back until Monday, that means that Cemetery Tours will be $2.99 on Kindle a bit longer than I said originally, so go get that book!  Make a Halloween dream come true.

I hope you all have the most haunted and spectacular of All Hallow’s Eves.  Until next time.

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Book Things

Hello, friends.  Well, today I’ve barely made it out of bed.  It’s just one of those icky sick days that kind of knocks you off your feet and punches you in the face.  Needless to say, I have not been very productive at all.  That’s why this post will be pretty short.  In fact, it’s basically just going to be me sharing a few new reviews and book covers.

The Cemetery Tours reviews go something like this:

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Friendly reminder that the Cemetery Tours eBook is only $2.99 on Kindle!

After Death has a few new reviews too, but this one is my favorite:

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Finally, a few book cover updates!  First of all, I designed the back cover for Backstage, the highly anticipated sequel to Boy Band:

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I also designed a cover to my new NaNoWriMo project.  I’m still not 100% set on the title or on the font, but it’s something!

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How are you this fine October afternoon?

A Very Haunted Weekend

Well friends, the Witching Hour is officially upon us!  All Hallows Eve is only days away!

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As I think most of you know, I’ve basically been celebrating Halloween for two straight months now.  This weekend, however, I got to kick things up a notch or two with my closest and dearest friends. It began with a Girls’ Night on Friday.

We drank some wine,

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Watched the single greatest Halloween movie of all time,

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And carved pumpkins!

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I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty proud of my Phoenix.

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Before the night ended, my friends told me that they had an idea.  I have to admit, they are pretty spectacular.  I think I’ll keep them around.

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The next night, I went with another of my best friends to Fort Worth for a Ghost Bus Tour.  Talk about a Halloween dream come true!

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There was also wine.  It was basically perfect.

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But absolutely nothing beats a visit to an old cabin village… Or possibly capturing a few unexplained light anomalies on camera.

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To top it all off, I may have stumbled across a website that allows you to Halloween-ify yourself.

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So yeah, that was my weekend.  How was yours?

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#NaNoWriMo 2015

Well friends, it is that time of year again.  Preparations for National Novel Writing Month are officially underway!

Last year was my first year as a NaNo participant, and that was because a writer friend of mine talked me into signing up.  I’m so glad she did.  I used to be of the mindset that if you needed a special month to get you to write a book, then maybe you shouldn’t be writing.  But that’s not what NaNoWriMo is about at all.  It’s an opportunity to try something that you might not have tried otherwise.  For example, I never would have written Boy Band had it not been for NaNoWriMo.  It just wasn’t something on my radar.  Then I signed up, watched a music video, and there it was.  The rest is history.

Since the sequel to Boy Band will be on December 8, that isn’t the book I’ll be working on this year.  I don’t actually have a title yet, so it’s temporarily titled Nostalgia.  It sounds really deep and dramatic, doesn’t it?  The funny thing is it’s really not.  If anything, it’s only slightly less girlish and fluffy than Boy Band.  It will not be a YA book, however.  It’s more aimed toward the New Adult audience.  That’s not to say that YA fans can’t read it.  But just as I wrote Boy Band specifically for the girls who love boy bands, I’m writing Nostalgia specifically for my generation.  For the girls who grew up in the 1990s.  And that’s all I’m going to say.

If you plan to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I’d love it if you added me as a buddy.  See you on the other side!

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My Halloween Essentials

Alright people.  It’s October 21.  That means we only have ten days left to celebrate one of the greatest feast days of the year: All Hallow’s Eve.

Halloween has always been a big deal in my family.  What’s not to love?  The pumpkins, the magic, the spooks, the costumes…  I think everyone becomes more of a believer in the things that can’t be explained around this time of year.

That being said, I intend to savor every second I have left of these ten days.  So, without further ado, I present

Jacqueline E. Smith’s Halloween Essentials

  • A trip to the pumpkin patch.

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  • A haunting soundtrack full of classic Halloween hits.

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  • A Halloween movie marathon. This marathon MUST include at least three separate viewings of Hocus Pocus.

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  • Candy Corns and Mellowcreme Pumpkins.
  • Scented candles.

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  • Finding your ideal costume.  If you can’t find it, make it!  One year in college when I was particularly broke, I went as The One-Eyed-One-Horned-Flying-Purple-People-Eater and I made my own wings and horn.  I looked a little deranged, but the wings looked AMAZING.

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  • Decorations galore.

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  • A unique design for your Jack-O-Lantern.  Now, I’ve been carving my own Jack-O-Lanterns for years, but scraping out all the insides and carving can be a bit tiresome, so it might not be for everyone.  Especially if you don’t like pulp under your nails.

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  • A black light bulb.  When I was little, my mom would ALWAYS light a black light on All Hallow’s Eve.  It’s simply not the Witching Hour without one.

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  • A black cat.  Naturally.  Where would I be without my beautiful Witch’s Familiar?

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  • A good ghost story. Of course!  And you can get Cemetery Tours on Kindle for only $2.99 for the remainder of October.

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What are your Halloween Essentials?

Why I Write

Most days, I have no idea what I’m going to blog about until I sit down at my computer.  Even then, sometimes it takes me a while to come up with something.  And if I can’t, chances are I’ll just skip blogging for the day.  After all, I usually don’t post every day.

Today, however, was one of those blessed days where I signed onto Twitter and noticed the number one trending topic in the nation: #WhyIWrite.  It was like a gift from the blogging gods.  Why do I write?

My immediate answer was Because I can’t not write.  Eloquent, I know.  But it’s true!  To not write would be almost physically impossible for me.  It’s a part of who I am, perhaps more so than just about any other quality that I possess.  When I’m writing, everything makes sense.  It’s one of the few things that has always come naturally to me.

My parents read to me every night, from the day I was born up until I learned to read myself.  Both profess that they don’t remember teaching me or my sister to read.  We just seemed to pick it up after having been read to our entire lives.  Writing followed shortly thereafter.

For years, writing was something I just did for fun.  In fact, I didn’t even realize I was doing it, if that makes any sense at all.  It was just something I did because I wanted to, like playing jump rope or riding my bike.  I even wrote stories about my future.  That should have been a clue right there that all my other interests would eventually take a backseat to writing.  Actually, looking back, I think they already had.

I write for myself, but I also write because I truly believe that it’s my way of interacting with the world, and maybe even doing some good.  I don’t write personal narratives very often, but I’m a huge believer in mental health awareness.  I’m also a big tree-hugger and animal and nature-lover.  Writing it what I have to give.  And I hope, one day, I’ll be able to make a difference.

I also write because I love characters and I love stories and I love adventures.  There will never be enough books in the world, nor intriguing characters to get to know.  I have dozens of plot lines and characters and places all swimming around in my head.  I have to let them out.  They’d drive me absolutely crazy if I didn’t.  And I want to give them their own stories.  I think they deserve that.  I hope I live long enough to see that happen for them.  I’m hoping I’ve got at least another fifty-sixty years, so I should be good.  Still, that doesn’t really seem like a very long time, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not.  I better get a move on!

Most importantly, I write because it’s what I love.  It makes me happy.  It gives me a thrill.  I hope to keep writing for the rest of my life, regardless of whether my books go on to become bestsellers or not.  Everything about writing is magic to me, and I’m thankful every day for books and for words and for stories.  May they never fade from our human experience.

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Octobering

The past few days have been filled with a lot of joy and a lot of preparation for one of my very favorite days of the year, Halloween!  The days to come will hold just as much if not more of the same.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The fun began Friday with another outdoor excursion into the woods.  The weather was so lovely, it almost felt like a real autumn as opposed to a Texas autumn.

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The next day, I joined my friend and fellow author Paula for Royse City’s annual Fun Fest, where we sold books and ate corn dogs and just had an old fashioned good time.  I even ended up running into some old friends!

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I also got to explore the city a bit.

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Yesterday was more low-key.  I lit a fall candle, curled up with a blanket, and read my very first RL Stine book.  I know, I know.  I’m a disgrace to my childhood and to my genre.  I love spooky things.  I don’t know how I went my entire kid life without reading one of his books.  But better late than never.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Books like his remind me of why I began writing in the first place.  Books are just pure exhilaration.  They’re limitless.  And I love them.

Speaking of which, if you’re a book blogger/reviewer and interested in receiving Review Copies of any of my books, please check out my new Review Copy Requests and Policies.

Later, Gators.

Why Buy Books?

Like many of you out there, I have a certain predisposition to read.  A lot.  On the one hand, I probably spend way too much time reading.  On the other hand, I probably don’t read enough.  Life’s just kind of weird that way.  Now, whenever I find a book that I really want to read, I take a trip up to my local bookstore and grab it.  My bookshelves currently look something like this…

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That doesn’t even include the large stack of books I have sitting next to my bed, waiting to be read.  A friend of mine asked me today, however, “Why do you keep buying books?  Why don’t you just go to the library?  That way you don’t spend money and you don’t have a book that you’ve already read lying around the house.”

I suppose that does make sense.  And I do have a library card and I, of course, love to support libraries.  They’re amazing, wonderful, and very important establishments and resources.  I often go to the library to check out nonfiction books, especially when I’m doing research for a new book.  But when it comes to guilty pleasure reading, I’m personally better off buying books.  And I can tell you why.

  1. I like to reread books.  As I told my friend, there isn’t one book on my shelf that I love that I haven’t read at least three or four times.  It’s like having a favorite movie.  You like to watch it over and over again.  I like to read books over and over again.  Can you imagine not owning the Harry Potter series?
  2. For some reason, when I check books out from the library, I feel like I have a time limit, which I kind of do.  Owning books, I can read them whenever I want, and take as long as I want, without having to worry about returning them.  They’re mine.  All mine, Precious…
  3. You can take books with you wherever you go!  Granted, you can take library books around too as long as you don’t have to return them, but you’ll probably feel a lot worse if you lose them.
  4. They’re just so pretty.  I mean, come on.  Books!
  5. If you happen to meet your favorite author, you can have them sign your book!  Can’t do that with a library book!  I have Rainbow Rowell’s and Anne Rice’s autographs in two incredible books and I certainly don’t plan on getting rid of them!
  6. Speaking of being an author… That’s how I make my living!  For authors, especially those of us who are independent, book sales are vital.  I do donate books to every library I visit and I am happy to do so.  But if people don’t buy our books, that’s kind of it for us. I have a growing collection of books by independent authors.  I love them!  I love supporting those authors who work so hard and so passionately for a dream that has no guarantees.  And there are some amazing independent books out there.
  7. Books are a work of art in every sense of the word.  We decorate our homes with paintings and sculptures, true works of love and genius.  Books are no different.

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So you see, it makes perfect sense to buy books.  It also makes perfect sense to support your local library.  Either way, keep reading!  And don’t forget your independent author friends.

On that note… Cemetery Tours is only $2.99 on Kindle for the rest of October!  Download your copy now!

CT

The ABC’s of Shakespeare

So, I mentioned earlier that I found the kid’s book that I wrote and illustrated for a Children’s Literature class in Graduate School.  Just for fun, I decided to share it.  Both the writing and illustrations leave a lot to be desired.  Still, it was a neat assignment and I really enjoyed it.

Shakespeare ABCs

Learning to Write

Tonight, I’ll be attending a NaNoWriMo kick starter event at a local library.  A friend of mine is presenting and the event is open to anyone who is thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo, as well as those who have participated in the past.  As y’all know, Boy Band started out as a NaNoWriMo project and has received such positive feedback that I’m planning on releasing the sequel in just a few short months.  It goes without saying that I am a big supporter of NaNoWriMo.

But you know, all this talk about writing seminars reminds has started taking me back to my own days in college, when I was just figuring out that I wanted to write.  Really write.  I remember Meg Cabot (one of my writing idols) advising young aspiring authors NOT to take any writing classes.  She claimed that studying something would instantly kill any and all love you once held for it.  To an extent, I found this to be true.

I took a few writing classes throughout my six years of higher education.  Some of which I enjoyed.  Some of which I hated so much I had to block them out.

I won’t waste too much time talking about the classes I didn’t enjoy.  One of them was screenplay writing. I think I would have really enjoyed it had it not been for my instructor.  He was a bitter, failed novelist and he made it no secret that he did not give two flying flips what we learned in that class, if anything.  The other was a short story class.  My final story was nothing exceptional, although I can’t help but remember it was about ghosts and demons and things that went bump in the night.  It seems I’ve always harbored that dark fascination.

The writing class that I really, truly enjoyed was a poetry class, which is funny, because I am a truly terrible poet.  That’s probably why I enjoyed the class, though.  Because I was learning something new.  I’ve written a grand total of three poems that I’m actually proud of.  Two of which are here.  The third is about killing a cockroach in New Braunfels.

Perhaps my favorite class of all, however, was children’s literature.  Even though it technically wasn’t a writing class, we all had to come up with our own final project to present at the end of the semester.  I decided to write and illustrate my own children’s book.  I’m actually quite tempted to upload it and share it with you here.  I’m pretty proud of it, even though the illustrations and the book itself leave much to be desired.  Still, I’ll never forget standing up in front of the class to show off the book.  My classmates were bewildered that I’d gone with writing a children’s book over writing a paper. One girl actually asked me, “Why would you do that?!” I guess to them, writing a paper was a lot less work, and it probably was.  But to me, writing a book was a lot more fun.  And it still is.

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