Back to Work

Well folks, the summer is winding down.  School is starting back up again.  Real life is making more demands than ever.  I’ll admit, though I do feel I got a lot done this summer (books published, books sold, books read, a few events, etc…) I probably did a lot more playing and a lot less working than I should have.  Oh well.  That’s what summers are for. 

Regardless, it’s time to dive back into the professional world.  I have two books that I’m working on simultaneously (on chapters 8 and 4, respectively) and along with focusing every bit of attention I have on making these next two books the absolute best I can, I also need to be sure to keep the momentum going on the first two Cemetery Tours books.  I’m thrilled with how well both have been selling this month and I’m hoping it keeps up, especially with the haunting Halloween season right around the corner!  I have three events scheduled for the next two months, and I’m hoping to book at least one or two more.  That’s a goal I have for next week.  

This week, I’ll admit, I’m going to be playing a bit more.  I’m going out to visit my best friend from high school in San Francisco.  I’m really excited, but at the same time, it kind of doesn’t feel real yet.  It feels like I’m going in like, three weeks.  

In book news, I recently finished Inescapable, the first book in the Premonition Series by Amy A. Bartol.  It’s called Inescapable and I actually stumbled across it at a local bookstore.  I picked it up because I saw that Ms. Bartol used the same printing company that I use and I thought, Hey, I like supporting my fellow indies.  

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I loved it!  I really want to read the rest of the series, but I’m waiting until I finish a few of the other books waiting to be read that I have lying in a pile on my bedroom floor.  

I also recently read A Time to Reap by Jonas Lee, also the first in a series.  I’ve not read many sci-fi/futuristic time-travelling books, but this one was very enjoyable and a fast-paced read.  

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Finally, I also got to read the second book in my friend Melissa Zaroski’s series, Davenport Manor: The Living Weapon.  All I can say is if you like vampires, you’ll enjoy these books.  I kind of wish that I was friends with all the characters.  And the book ends with a cliffhanger, so you know you have to keep reading the next one.  

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I love that the last three books I read and truly enjoyed were written by indie authors.  Just saying. 

Finally, Cemetery Tours received an AMAZING review from Carol Allen of StarAngel’s Reviews.  Her words actually gave me chills.  You can read the review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1010042491?book_show_action=false&page=1

Or here:

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You can find Carol on GoodReads here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6294320-carol-starangel-s-reviews-allen

Well, with all that being said, I’m going to go get to work!  Have a good week! 

#AmWriting

Hi, friends!

Well, after another busy, busy week, I am finally getting back to my bliss: reading and writing. It’s been so nice. It’s been especially nice because we’re smack dab in the middle of the hottest months in Texas and… IT’S COOL OUTSIDE.

I’m not kidding. It’s been like, 80 degrees around here. Do you know what 80 degrees is to a Texan?! It’s sweater weather. I had coffee and tea with a friend the other day and we couldn’t stand around outside because we were getting chilled. THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN IN TEXAS.

Anyway, the lovely weather, naturally has inspired the burning of fall candles and the viewing of several M. Night Shyamalan movies in anticipation of autumn. Now that it’s August, the Smith family will begin celebrating all things Halloween.

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I seem to have gotten off track. I set off to write a blog post about writing and I somehow ended up telling you all about how much I love Halloween and fall. But everyone loves Halloween and fall! It’s the best part about summer ending. And let me tell you, I love summer. It’s my favorite season. I am a summer kind of girl. But I can never say I’m sad to see it end because I’m always so excited about autumn.

Now that this week is over and things are slowing down a bit, I’m thrilled to be able to get back into writing, especially since right now, I’m working on two books. The first is the third book in the Cemetery Tours series, and let me tell you, I am so excited about it. It’s going to be so much fun to write this one. The others were fun too, but oh my goodness, this one is going to be cool. Then of course, I was driving the other day, and suddenly I knew exactly what I was going to do with the fourth one, so now I’m looking forward to finishing the third one just so I can get started on the fourth!

The second book I’m working on, as I’ve mentioned before, is the first in a brand new series. It’s one that’s been in my head for a while, but for some reason just never worked on paper. Well, I finally figured out what I was doing wrong and how to fix it. Once I get closer to publishing it, I can tell you more about it, but for now, I’m just having a blast finally writing it the way it’s meant to be written. I’m writing it so fast that I know I’m going to have to go back and make several revisions. However, with a brand new project, that’s bound to happen. Getting a first draft out is my main priority right now and I’ve got to be honest, I’m loving it.

I’ve also been keeping an eye out for more events that I can attend in the area. I still have a few emails to send and a few calls to make. But hey, that’s just the life of an independent artist. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer or a musician or an artist or a filmmaker. When you’re independent, there is always something you can be doing.

And with that, I’m going to leave you with this awesome quote I saw the other day when my friend and I were having coffee (though technically, I was having tea because I don’t like coffee).

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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!

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.

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.