To Read List

I have a problem.  It’s one that I’m sure plagues several authors and reading aficionados and it’s one that will only go away with time, commitment, and lots of relaxation.

I simply have too many books on my to-read list.

Technically, I have a never-ending to-read list, but my immediate to-read list is getting a little out of hand.  These are all books that I’ve obtained from fellow authors (in no particular order).  I always try to bump indie-authors up to the top of the to-read list because I know how important reviews are and I love being able to help them in any way that I can.

The Soul by S. R. Carrillo (http://permashift.wordpress.com)

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Born Broken by TJ Wiltshire (http://tjwiltshire.com)

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After Life by Daniel Ionson

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This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs (http://planetpooks.wordpress.com)

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Surviving Life by Jeanne Skartsiaris

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Moon Tears by M.M. Frische

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Take 2 by Linda Bolton

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Support your local and independent authors!  And other artists as well.

Meeting the Authors and Discovering Witches

This last weekend was super.

It began Saturday with a book event at the Colony Public Library called Meet The Authors.  Several local authors gathered at the library to meet with readers (and each other), spread the word, and maybe sell a few books.

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While getting the sales and spreading the word about my books is always great (and very appreciated), my favorite part is always meeting and connecting with readers.  I met one girl who turned out to be an aspiring writer.  She thought it was so cool to meet people who’d actually written books and could hold them in their hands.  She even let me read the beginning of the story that she’d been working on.  I felt so cool and honored that she would trust me with that!  Definitely the best part of the experience.

I also talked with a mom and her daughter about Harry Potter for about an hour.  The girl eventually looked at me and said, “We’ve talked more about Harry Potter than your books.” That tends to happen.  I’m pretty sure I Tweet more about Harry Potter than I do Cemetery Tours.  That might not be the best marketing strategy in the world, but I’m a fangirl at heart.  I can’t help myself.

I also came home with several new books: Surviving Life by Jeanne Skartsiaris (fun fact: her half brother is Ed, Carol’s abusive husband in The Walking Dead! I’m sure he’s quite a nice fellow in real life), Moon Tears by M.M. Frische (she also writes children’s books; her first is called Miss Muffet & Bitsy and is totally adorable), Take 2 by Linda Bolton, The Empowered Woman by J. Nicole Williamson, and This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs.

Finally, at the end of the day, one of the men who ran and coordinated the event asked me if I’d like to come back for an event around Halloween and give a presentation on ghost stories and sell some more books!  I am so excited, I can’t even tell you.  I’ve already begun planning out what I’m going to say (Hamlet, anyone?).

All in all, I’d say the Meet The Authors event was a huge success.

I spent the rest of the weekend reading A Discover of Witches, the first in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

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May I just say that I LOVED THAT BOOK.   Oh my goodness, it was magical.  I loved the characters, (especially Matthew, whom I pictured as Richard Armitage), I loved the setting, and I really loved how Harkness created such a beautiful and compelling story using so many different elements: magic, science, history, alchemy, religion, literature, romance, mythology… It was one of the most intricate and intelligent books I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to read the next two books.

My own Witch’s Familiar really enjoyed the book too…

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What are you reading this week?

Motivation

It’s kind of one of those days where I find myself Googling “Ideas for Blog Posts” in order to figure out what to write about.  I know there’s no law that says I have to post every day, or even every week, but with the Halloween season fast approaching, I’d like to keep my head in the game as much as I can, especially considering I have ghost stories to share!  

Now, the last time I Googled “Ideas for Blog Posts,” I didn’t have very much luck.  I stumbled across a Blog Post generator that, while a brilliant concept, turned out to be a little, I don’t know, stupid.  So I quickly ditched that idea and went back to trying to come up with my own blog posts.  

Today, I actually stumbled across some pretty decent ideas.  The one I’ve decided to go with today is “Motivation.”

What is your motivation?  

As writers, a lot of our motives are probably pretty similar.  We want to tell stories.  We want people to read or stories.  Or maybe, even more simply, we just enjoy writing.  I know I do.  It’s so much easier than talking.  Plus I have a really weird sounding voice.  One of my teachers in grad school described me as a Southern Valley Girl.  He also told me he thought I was a flake and was surprised to discover I could actually write.  Awesome.  

I hated that class.

Anyway, it’s probably for the best that I prefer writing to talking. 

As I delve deeper and deeper into the writing business, I find my priorities have shifted drastically from the time I first decided I wanted to write professionally.  It used to be all about the storytelling, and above and beyond all else, it should be.  But I’ve come to learn there is so much more to being an author than simply being a “writer.”  Being an author means going out into the world, meeting people, being a spokesperson, being a salesperson, being a business brain, being a marketing brain, being a social media aficionado, being a reader, being a reviewer.  It’s like an entire business in just one occupation.  It’s crazy and it’s wonderful and it’s challenging and it will drive you absolutely up the wall if you dwell on it for too long.  

Now, instead of simply writing stories, I’m also interacting with readers and other authors.  I’m trying to get my name out there and trying to help others get out there as well.  I’m researching venues and reviewers in hopes of making one more sale, of getting one more review.  It’s not the life I imagined when I decided I was going to become an author.  But you know what?  I kind of love it.  

Now, is writing still my favorite part of the gig?  Absolutely.  But meeting readers, I’ve discovered, is a close second.  Has my motivation for becoming a writer changed?  Not really.  I still have a million stories inside my head that have to get out.  It’s not that I want them out.  It’s a physical need to write it down and share it.  Fellow writers, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s impossible to not write.  It’s as essential to our existence as eating and breathing.  It simply has to happen.  You can’t imagine a life where you’re not writing or telling stories.  

For me, writing is more than an escape.  It’s the driving force that pushes my life forward.  It’s an adventure, and there’s always something new to discover.  Writing is freedom, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think freedom is what most, if not all, artists truly crave.  

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Ultimate Book Tag!

I’ll be honest.  I love these surveys.  I think they’re so much fun.  This one, I found on Callum McLaughlin’s blog: http://callummclaughlin.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/ultimate-book-tag/ 

1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?
Nope.  Though I’ve got to be honest, I rarely read in the car.  I like to listen to music and watch the world outside the window.  

2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?
That’s a tough one.  The one that has always stood out to me, however, is Madeleine L’Engle.  I remember the first time I read A Ring of Endless Light, she simply had me captivated.  Her writing, her thoughts, were just so incredibly beautiful.  This quote, in particular, has stayed with me for years:

If I’m confused, or upset, or angry, if I can go out and look at the stars I’ll almost always get back to a sense of proportion. It’s not that they make me feel insignificant; it’s the very opposite; they make me feel that everything matters, be it ever so small, and that there’s meaning to life even when it seems most meaningless.

3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
Is this even a question?  Harry Potter! 

1) Harry Potter is real magic.  It’s not just a story.  JK Rowling created an entire world, a society, a culture.  It’s intricate and brilliant and colorful and simply alive.

2) Harry Potter got me through the toughest time in my life.  I even wrote a whole blog post about it. https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/i-believe-in-dragons/

3) Characters are always my favorite parts of any book and Harry Potter’s characters are all truly exquisite.  I wish several of them were my best friends.  Sadly, very few of my very favorite characters actually survived the series.  

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is it in (besides books…)?
I don’t have a book bag, per se, but when I need to carry a book with me, I use my giant orca purse.  It’s a bag with a lot of pretty embroidered killer whales and dolphins on it.  It also carries my phone, wallet, planner, and notebook.  

5. Do you smell your books?
Oh yes.  

6. Books with or without little illustrations?
I haven’t read a book with illustrations in a while (unless Harry Potter counts with the little pictures at the beginning of every chapter), but I don’t mind them.  In fact, I like seeing what the author or illustrator had in mind.  It’s always interesting to see others’ interpretations.

7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?
Every Nicholas Sparks book ever.  I love them all.  I read each one the day it comes out.  However, in the end, they all kind of end up being the same book.  Except The Guardian.  That is one heck of a good book! 

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
I started wearing glasses when I was in first grade.  I didn’t mind really, except that I really, really wanted to be a Disney Princess and none of them wore glasses.  So I went through all of my big Disney picture books and drew glasses on all the princesses.  

9. What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
Either Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard or a book of Episcopal Haikus.  Yeah, I’m that kind of person. 

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?
Either The Complete Works of William Shakespeare or The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.  

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
Now that you mention it…

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12. When did you get into reading?
I can’t remember a time I wasn’t into reading.  My mom was reading to me from the day I was born.  

13. What is your favorite classic book?
This is going to sound nerdy, but I really love Beowulf.

14. In school was your best subject Language Arts/English?
Yep.  That and Biology.  I really love animals and nature.  

15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?
I would act like I loved it and then sell it to Half-Price Books.  

16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to
Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
I recently discovered the Inescapable series by indie author Amy A. Bartol and I’m kind of loving it.  However, it’s probably more similar to Twilight than it is to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.

17. What is your favorite word?
Ergo.  I love it so much.  

18. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
I prefer fangirl. Or Ravenclaw.

19. Vampires or Fairies? Why?
I actually haven’t read many Fairy books (unless Midsummer Night’s Dream counts) so I guess I’ll have to go with Vampires. 

20. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Angels.  Because I secretly wish I had wings.  

21. Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Spirits.  Because Cemetery Tours.  

22. Zombies or Vampires? Why?
Depends what I’m in the mood for.  If I’m in the mood to be scared then ZOMBIES.  If I’m in the mood for dark, supernatural romance (or Twilight), then vampires.

23. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
Forbidden love. If a girl is going to have two hot guys fighting over her, she’d better be pretty darn awesome.  

24. AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Oh gosh… I read both and I enjoy both.  Again, it depends!  If I’m sick or in a particularly girly mood, I’m going to choose romance.  Usually, however, I do prefer a bit of action.  

To whoever has read this… I tag you!  Only if you want to, that is.  I hate internet peer pressure.

Little Victories

I’ve posted on this blog before about the dreaded Writer’s Block (https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/the-block/).  It’s a an affliction that plagues every writer, no matter how experienced or how many books they have under their belt.  I’m in the process of working on my third and for the past few days, I’ve hit a roadblock, wondering how to transition scenes while keeping the story flowing.  Transitions have never been my strong point.  In fact, I’m having a difficult time figuring out how to transition into my next paragraph.

Too often, I hear about writers feeling down on themselves because they’re stuck, or because their writing doesn’t come as naturally to them as it does to others.  The thing is when you read other writers’ work, you’re reading their completed project.  This project should read like it all came naturally and easily (unlike this awkward blog post, for example).  But I can almost guarantee that that finished book did not come without impatience, frustration, outtakes, and maybe even a little bit of booze (if the writer is over 21, of course).  

In my experience, outtakes are the most frustrating.  I’ll write and write and write, get a couple hundred words in, and realize that everything I just wrote has no place in my story, or that it will take the story in an entirely different direction than it needs to go.  Sometimes, these new directions are great ideas, but sometimes, they just need to go.  And let me tell you, it is HARD to take everything you just worked so hard on and delete it (though I never fully delete it, I move it to the “outtakes” document), not only because I just spent a good portion of my workday on it, but because it lands me right back to where I started.  And more often than not, it’s one of those awkward spots that trips me up and gets me stuck.  

The good news is that writer’s block does not last forever unless you let it.  Last night, after hours (yes, it can take hours) of staring at the screen and trying out all the typical transitions, my story finally found it’s way back on track.  It was a small paragraph, I think only three sentences, but it worked and it feels right.  Best of all, I’m happy with it and I can now continue on with the story the way it’s supposed to be written.  

It’s funny, but with writing, even the smallest victories are to be celebrated and appreciated.  Writing is not for the faint of heart.  It’s a huge commitment and it can be an enormous pain in the neck.  But it’s worth it.  In the end, it’s always worth it.  

 

Stalking the Demon – Advance Review EBOOKS by Ciara Ballintyne

STALKING THE DEMON ~ Advance Review EBOOKS by @CiaraBallintyne #HighFantasy #FREEBIE

Available for a limited time

FREE Advance Review ebooks (Review Copies only)

STALKING THE DEMON

(Book 2 in the Seven Circles of Hell)

by Ciara Ballintyne

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Date of Publication – 22 September 2014

Genre:  High Fantasy (Adult)

About the Book

Alloran lost his hand to thwart his renegade friend–but the world is still going to hell.

Six months after Ladanyon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret–the seven circles of hell are unstable. His worst fear is that the terrible mirror spell cast upon Gisayne has wrought some connection between her and the demon dimensions.

As everything Alloran loves races toward destruction, he does the unthinkable and refuses to obey the council of wizards. The only people who can help him are the two research assistants assigned by the council–but he knows he can’t trust them.

All the answers are locked away in the last place anyone wants to go: hell.

Add it to your Goodreads TBR here (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23156116-stalking-the-demon?from_search=true).

eARCs may not be identical to the final published version and therefore may contain some minor editing and typographical errors prior to the final proofread. eARCs are expected to be available 2 weeks prior to the publication date. Interested? Sign-up now!

ALL REVIEWERS PLEASE COMPLETE THE FORM BELOW

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RZLV37Y

My Guide to the Perfect Sick Day

For about the past two weeks, I feel like I’ve been going, going, going.  This is usually a good thing.  I always prefer to be active and to have something to do than to have absolutely nothing to do.  

Throughout the past few days, however, everything seems to have caught up with me.  I’ve been absolutely drained of energy (hey… maybe there’s a ghost around!  Ha ha ha… Cemetery Tours humor) and on top of it all now, I just really, really don’t feel good.  I don’t think I’m actually sick, just run down.  However, I don’t want to treat my poor body like it’s not sick because it’s obviously not feeling its best for a reason.  

To be totally honest, I haven’t had a real sick day in a while because… well… I don’t really get sick anymore (knock on wood).  I used to get sick ALL the time with upper respiratory infections.  I finally got fed up with it near the beginning of 2013 and I decided to see an allergist.  As it turns out, I am allergic to everything that grows except, get this, mountain cedar.  Go figure.  The one thing that everyone in the world is allergic to is the one thing I can sniff all day long and not sneeze one little bit.  

Sick days are still as un-fun as they were the last time I was sick, more than a year ago, but there are ways of making them slightly more enjoyable.  

Guilty Pleasure Movie Marathon

You know those movies that you’re ashamed to own and even more ashamed to admit you love?  Watch them all.  Go for it.  You want to binge-watch Twilight?  Go ahead.  Nicholas Sparks movies? Start with The Notebook.  Yeah, people might judge but you’re sick and you should do what you want to do.  Especially if it takes your mind off how awful you feel.  My favorite sick movie is the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  Not sure why.  It’s just the first movie I turn to when I’m not feeling myself.  

Comfort Food

Baked potatoes with lots of butter, Ramen noodles, ice cream, warm french bread, soup, I could go on forever.  Delicious and soothing comfort food is definitely one of the best parts of not feeling well.  Unless, of course, you can’t keep it down, in which case, I do now want to see you, I do not want to talk to you, I do not even want to acknowledge your existence.  Stay away from me.

Pajamas

Now, I love pajamas even when I’m not sick, but I can never ever justify staying in them all day unless I’m not feeling good.  I usually go for my special, extra-comfy Christmas pajama pants, a tank top or comfy t-shirt, and my fluffy Bath and Body Words bathrobe.  Sooo cozy.

Camping Out on the Sick Couch

When I’m sick, I transfer my entire world to the living room couch.  It’s crucial that the ailing body remain as close to food and to the television as possible.  The couch is usually that ideal central spot.  Take your pillows, your blankets, your tissues or whatever medicine you might be requiring, a heating pad… Anything and everything to ease your suffering.  

A Big Glass of Ice Water 

Or any beverage of your choice, but water is my favorite.  It’s a good idea to stay hydrated even when you’re healthy, but it’s extra important when you’re sick.  Some of you may prefer something with a little extra kick, like tea or Gatorade.  

A Pet

Unlike most animals, my kitty is not a very empathetic creature.  Except when I’m sick.  Somehow, whenever I’m not feeling very good, she always seems to sense it and she comes over to sit on me.  Granted, this usually turns out to be more of an inconvenience than a comforting gesture, but it’s the thought that counts.  At least I know she loves me.  

A Good Book

When I’m sick, I tend to reread my favorite books.  This usually comes down to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or A Ring of Endless Light.  I’ve read Azkaban so many times that the middle portion of the book is no longer attached to the spine.  If I open it up, a big chunk of the body of the book just falls out.  But it’s always worth it. 

On that note, if you’re in need of a good book, I recommend Cemetery Tours.  And even if you’re not, it would make me feel better.  

http://www.amazon.com/Cemetery-Tours-Jacqueline-Smith-ebook/dp/B00F7CHQ08/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409874863&sr=1-1&keywords=cemetery+tours

Talk to you all later! 

I’m a Writer

The biggest asset to the independent author (or any artist, for that matter) is the online community.  Making friends, making connections, with fellow authors, bloggers, and writers is probably the absolute best thing you can do.  This community is one of my favorite things about being an independent author.  Everyone I’ve met is so helpful, so friendly, so supportive.  It’s a wonderful group to be a part of and I’ve just had such a wonderful experience. 

One of those authors and bloggers that has greatly helped to shape my path as an indie author is Rachel Thompson.  You can visit her website here: http://rachelintheoc.com

The other day, she posted this quote.  

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This quote really made ME think.  What do my books do for others?  How will reading them impact their lives?  How does any book, for that matter, impact our lives?  Why do we read in the first place?  

We don’t read because, despite what book lovers may believe, we don’t need to read to survive.  They aren’t vital to our survival like food or water or oxygen.  But I do believe they are vital to our existence and our human experience.  

Books enrich our lives.  They open our minds up to new experiences, to new worlds, to new perspectives, and to a greater appreciation of our own lives and the world around us.  We read books for the same reason that we indulge in dessert or travel to new and exciting places or make friends, and that is because as humans, we do not exist to simply exist.  We are meant to live and to experience and to enjoy.  

As for what my books, Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds, specifically bring to the table, I usually think that’s for my readers to decide.  As the author, I can tell you now my point of view is extremely biased.  I think my books are great.  I think they’re funny.  I think they’re spooky.  I think my characters are likable.  But any writer who doesn’t think the world of their books probably shouldn’t have published in the first place.   

What does a reader gain from Cemetery Tours?

A fun and fast-paced read about ghosts.

Twists and turns.

A touch of romance.

Characters that I’ve grown to love as friends.  Honestly, I miss them when I’m not writing them.  

A few chills down your spine and maybe even a few tears.  

A new perspective on death and the afterlife.  

Brink (everyone’s favorite character… the Ensemble Dark Horse) 

That’s to name a few.  All I know is that I love these books.  I enjoy writing them and it simply makes my entire life when I hear that readers are enjoying them too.  To have just one person go out of their way to tell you that they truly loved something that you wrote is just about the best thing in the world.  It makes my day, every day, more so than sales or even the act of writing, both of which I really love.  

That all being said, what has been your experience as a reader/writer? How have books changed your life?  

 

Video Killed the Radio Star

Okay, well, the title doesn’t exactly go with this post, but there will be videos, so you know, just thought I’d kind of go with it. 

I am home from California and I had a super amazing awesome time!  I can’t wait to share photos and stories with you.  Until then, however, please enjoy the following links.

The first is to the Cemetery Tours book trailer!  Besides a brief cameo (please do NOT judge me for my poor acting skills… I am a writer, not a thespian), I had absolutely nothing to do with this trailer.  These awesome theater and film students wrote, produced, acted, and directed it all.  They are all so, so, so talented and amazing.  

The second video I’m sharing should probably never see the light of day, but I’m going to share it anyway.  It’s my ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!  I was nominated by my little cousin and by fellow author, Toni (http://tjwiltshire.com).  I’m sure most of you know the drill by now, but if you’re nominated, you either dump a bucket of ice water on your head or donate or both.  I will be doing both.  

Hope you all have a good week!  I’ll talk to y’all soon! 

California Bound

Hi, friends! 

Well, after writing that lovely post about getting back to work and being a responsible adult… I’m off to California!  My best friend from high school lives out in San Francisco, so I’m going to spend a few days out there, seeing sea lions, drinking wine, and having an all around good time. I’ve been once before and had an awesome time. 

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I’m especially excited this year to visit some new places, especially the Marine Mammal Center. Although one of my goals is to become a New York Times best-selling author by the time I’m 30, marine life will always be my first love.  

Well, I’m going to continue writing as much as I can today, though I will be setting my books aside in order to pack and prepare for the journey to San Francisco tomorrow.  I hope you all have a great rest of the week!