Superstitions

Halloween is within our reach and everyone I know is getting in the spirit. I love Halloween. I love all the pumpkins, the costumes, Hocus Pocus, and how everyone reconnects with their inner kid to partake in candy consumption and make-believe magic. Halloween is most certainly one of my favorite days of the year.

As everyone is getting in the spirit, old superstitions are bound to arise. I think it’s safe to say that in 2016, most of these stories and legends are taken for fun. There is one, however, that seems to persist and often affects those living in the present, and that is the Curse of the Black Cat.

The black cat is inarguably one of the most recognized and celebrated figures of Halloween. We decorate with black cats, we dress up as black cats, Hocus Pocus even stars a black cat. But the myth still remains: black cats are bad luck.

This morning, I woke up to this:

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This was posted on Buzzfeed’s SnaptChat Story. Now, Buzzfeed is huge. I know they meant this to be fun, a way to get in the Halloween spirit. But it still made me sad, because it perpetuates that age old stigma that black cats are evil, black cats are witches, black cats are cursed. Even if there weren’t several studies that state that black cats are the most likely to be overlooked and euthanized in the shelter, I’ve seen the fear of black cats first hand.

I used to volunteer in an animal shelter in college. I was in playing with the cats one day (because cats are my favorite) and a preteen girl and her dad walked in. She walked right up to one cage and gasped.

“An evil black cat!”

She was absolutely serious.

I don’t really get up in arms about a whole lot. I’m a pacifist. I don’t like to argue and I don’t like to make a big deal out of most things. But I love black cats. I have a black cat. And it breaks my heart that they’re still feared, still overlooked, still abandoned.

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My sweet girl, Midnight, is my best friend. And she’s had to beat some pretty remarkable odds. She herself was abandoned in the streets. She was terrified of people when she found us. Even now, eleven years later, it kills me to think of all she must have gone through. She’s my baby.  She’s also one of the lucky ones. She has a home and a loving family. She’ll never go hungry. She’ll never want for attention. She has her own Papasan chair that was actually supposed to be mine but she has since decided otherwise.

I know Buzzfeed didn’t mean any harm. Heck, they have a whole article about what makes black cats so awesome. Still, I had to say something. I’m afraid I don’t advocate for very much. I’ve just never felt it’s my place. But I love my black cat, and I would love nothing more than to see every black cat out there adopted into a loving home. That goes for every homeless animal, actually. They deserve our love far more than we deserve theirs.

 

 

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What I Like About Me

This afternoon, a friend of mine challenged her Facebook followers to post one thing that they love about themselves. My initial response was to post, “My cat,” because honestly, my cat is the best part of me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was being sincere and that there was no room for my self-deprecating snark on a good-hearted, genuine post.  So I started thinking.  What do I love about myself?

The sad thing is I’m able to come up with at least ten things I DON’T like about myself right off the bat. I hate my thighs. I hate that I have NO sense of direction. I hate that I get frustrated when I’m stuck in traffic. I hate that I still struggle with social anxiety. I hate that I’m such a procrastinator. I hate that I’m stubborn. I hate that I’m judgmental. I hate that I still don’t understand percentages. The list goes on and on.

As I was sitting there, thinking of all the things that I don’t like about myself, I realized that that’s not uncommon. As a society, I feel like we’re programmed to dwell on the negative. We’re constantly told by the media, by celebrities, by corporations trying to sell us things HOW much we could improve. We could be skinnier. We could be richer. We could have cooler things. We could visit cooler places. We should not be satisfied with our mediocre lives and our mediocre bodies because look at how much better these other people are living.

But you know what? Screw that. I have a great life. I have wonderful friends, an amazing family, I love my pets, I love my job… Life has been pretty good to me. And there is a lot to love. It’s okay to love yourself. It’s healthy to love yourself! Maybe our world would be a more positive place if we all learned to love ourselves, flaws included. And let’s face it, this world could definitely step it up a notch or two on the positivity scale.

So here it goes. Even though it goes against everything we’re taught (i.e. to be humble and NOT to brag on ourselves) here are a few things that I love about myself.

I love my sense of humor. It’s probably my favorite thing about myself. Other may not appreciate it as much, but I personally thing I’m hysterical.

I love that I’m a pretty decent judge of character.

I love that I have my Master’s Degree. I worked hard for that degree. I’m proud of it.

I love that I’m brave enough to go after the things that I want, that I’m not afraid to take a few chances.

I love that I love to learn and that most things come fairly easily to me (except percentages… that’s just a lost cause. Oh, and carrying a map in my head. That’s not gonna happen either).

I love that I’m healthy and that my blood pressure is super low. With all the heart disease and cholesterol problems that run in my family, I will never take low blood pressure for granted.

I love that I still believe in what can’t be explained.

I love my books. I love my photography. And I love that I’ve found things that truly make me happy.

I love that even though I’m a free spirit by nature, I can be serious and professional when I need to be.

I love that at 28, I’m still dreaming.

Okay, now it’s your turn. In the comments section or in your own post, tell me everything that you love about you. And don’t be ashamed! You are an amazing person. It’s time you owned it.

Hey Writers

This past weekend, I attended the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin, Texas. It was absolutely one of my favorite book events to date. I met several young readers who had earned their spot at the festival by reading books in class. I met several teachers and librarians who love to promote literacy and who offered to spend their Saturdays with their students at a local book festival. I met several authors who shared their books with me, including NYT Bestsellers CC Hunter and Sabaa Tahir. I reconnected with old friends and had the time of my life talking books, exploring Austin, and playing with Lightsabers.

There at the festival, I spent most of my time with my friend, Kara, who has written her own children’s book and is in the process of illustrating. As an aspiring authors, she went around and asked established writers what one piece of advice they would offer to those hoping to follow in their footsteps. Sabaa Tahir gave an incredible answer. It was “Never make excuses for why you’re NOT writing.”

That really got me thinking about my own writing journey and the questions I would have asked and those questions I would still like answered. Even now, three years later, I’m still learning everything I can from other writers. I will never pretend to have all the answers, which is why I wanted to ask these questions today.

So, if you are a writer (published or unpublished) these are for you. I will post my answers to these questions within a day or so. I know I haven’t been very good at blogging recently. Life has been so crazy (in all the best possible ways).

  1. What got you into writing? Did you start off thinking it was something you wanted to do professionally? When and what made you decide to pursue writing as a career?
  2. Do you prefer writing series or stand alone novels? If you like series, do you prefer to finish them off consecutively, or do you pursue other projects in between installments?
  3. What’s your favorite part of writing a new novel? The characters? The world building? The action?
  4. Why do you write what you write? If you write sci-fi, why sci-fi? If you write romance, why romance? What inspires you? Why THAT particular story?
  5. What books do you like to read?
  6. Finally, what advice would you give to your younger self? To aspiring writers?

Why We Write

In all my years spent reading, I have always been drawn to fiction.  My sister loves to read anything and everything, from history to psychology to autobiographies.  I read such books for school, of course, and occasionally for fun, but I always, always go back to fiction.  And for most of my life, I never really knew why that was.  After all, non-fiction is fascinating.  It’s true.  It’s relevant.

But the cool thing about fiction, I realized one day while discussing our varied taste in reading material with my sister, is that it is a world of the writer’s own creation.  Authors of fiction could write anything, and yet they chose to right that particular book.  Those stories and characters would not exist were it not for the author’s decision to write them.  That makes each fiction book, at least in my opinion, something very, very remarkable.

What is it then, I wondered, that inspires us to write the stories that we write?  Why do some write about witches and vampires and the supernatural while others go for historical fiction or fantasy of sci-fi?  I think the simple answer to that is that we write the books that we want to read.  At least, that’s what I’ve always done.  But I think we also write because, in a weird way, these stories need to exist.  I can’t say for certain that fictional stories make the world a better place, but they certainly make my world a better place.  There are moments in my past that were only tolerable because I was able to lose myself in a book.  It was just like magic.  The real world with all its problems suddenly didn’t exist anymore.  Only this new story existed, and it was more important to me than just about anything.  And I try my best to access that same source of magic whenever I write a new book.

Why do you write what you write?

Getting Back on Track

Hi, friends!  I feel like it’s kind of been forever since I posted an update.  My apologies!  It’s been kind of hectic around here.

First of all, my family got their pool back up and running so you can guess how I’ve been spending these sunny August days!  I defy the pale indoor author stereotype.  I love being outside and I especially love swimming.

Next, my sister and I attended Jazzed About the Library, which benefited The Colony Library.  Such wonderful people, a wonderful event… And we got free In & Out Burger!

A week after that, my sister and I road tripped up to Tulsa to see one of our favorite bands, 5 Seconds of Summer.  They put on an amazing show.  I’d love to see them again.  Who knows?  Maybe they’ll be the ones who inspire that Boy Band spin-off.  😉

The day after the concert, I cut all my hair off.

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Okay, not all of it, but ten inches, which was enough to donate to Locks of Love!  I’m hoping that some good will come out of those messy brown curls.

Finally, I’ve been playing around with free stock photos, creating promos for my fellow authors and me.  One has a typo (I need to fix that) but it’s so pretty, I have to share it anyway!

I hope you’re all doing well!  I’m working on three different books at the same time. I think I might actually be crazy.

Love you all!

Backstage – Jacqueline E. Smith 

Wonderful review for Worldwide! ❤

Biblio Virgo Reviews

REVIEW:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5)
Ms. Jacqueline E. Smith you never cease to amaze me with your vivacious writing. I can’t seem to get enough of it (fingers crossed for the creation of a fourth novel). I’m unsure as to which book of the series is my favourite because I love them all equally! 😊

An aspect I greatly admire about this story line is the strength of the relationship between Sam and Mel. In Boyband they finally discover their mutual feelings of love for each other, after being best friends since the early years of childhood. In Backstage they make their sentiments public. And in Worldwide? The couple has

to deal with hate messages from the media. Not all the fans are sour about the relationship, but the ones that are find no difficulty in stripping Mel down to nothing with their harsh words. Sam and Mel conquer…

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August Happenings

Hi, friends!  Happy Thursday!

This week has been super busy and I can’t help but think it’s only going to get busier as September approaches.

I was thrilled yesterday to learn that Backstage, the second book in the Boy Band series, won an award!  Go Indie Now awarded me the Literary Excellence Award for July!  I was so excited!

Because of my busy schedule, I haven’t been focusing on new projects as much as I’d like.  I’m hoping that will change soon.  I have four – count ’em… one, two, three, FOUR – projects that I’m currently working on and all of which I’m really excited about.  I think I already mentioned all this in a previous blog post, but my biggest challenge in having four current works in progress is, of course, figuring out how to divide up my time and attention and deciding which book I want to finish and polish and release next.  I’m hoping to figure it out in the next few days.  I love writing so much and I love new books and I’m so excited about ALL of these new projects!  I wish I had eight hands.  Like an octopus.

That’s all I’ve really got for today.  I hope you’re all having a fantastic week!  Tomorrow is Friday!  Yay!

July Winner: Jacqueline E. Smith

Backstage, the second novel in the Boy Band series, has won the Excellence in Literature Award from Go Indie Now! I’m so honored! Thank you to all the wonderful readers and indie advocates over at Go Indie Now! I love you all!

Go Indie Now! Excellence in Literature Award

Certificate of Excellence

Jacqueline E. Smith won the July Go Indie Now! Excellence in Literature Award for the beautiful evolution of her characters, her knowledge of the early adult experience, and how realistic her plot and ideas were in: Backstage: A Boy Band Novel

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Melissa Parker might just be the luckiest girl on the planet. She’s just turned twenty-one. She’s best friends with The Kind of September. And she’s dating Sam Morneau, everyone’s ultimate celebrity crush. Of course, no one is supposed to know about that. As it turns out, no one is supposed to know about a lot of things that happen behind the scenes of life with the planet’s most popular boy band. Now, what should be Happily Ever After for Mel and Sam is turning into a series of secrets, manipulation, and potential heartbreak… Just in time for The Kind of September’s world tour.

SCORECARD

  • Editing: 4/5

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Boy Band by Jacqueline E. Smith

I love this review so much! Thank you, Eliza! ❤

LIZOFWORDS

Introduction

Yay!!!! Another book read and reviewed. Lately, I haven’t felt like editing and posting in my blog so I’m sorry for that. I’m pretty happy now; I like my theme in Instagram and in my blog. I will try to be active here and post often. Our exams finished last week and I survived!! Thank you all for your support. So, without further ado, let’s get started–

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Synopsis:

Sam Morneau is Melissa Parker’s best friend. He’s also a member of The Kind of September, basically the hottest boy band on the planet.

After two and a half years, Mel is all too familiar with the day-to-day occurrences that come with being a member of the band’s inner circle, including hectic schedules, passionate fans, and gossip-mongering celebrity girlfriends.

Now, with the release of the group’s third album just weeks away, their lives have never been crazier and Mel is doing…

View original post 595 more words

New Month, New Goals, New Harry Potter Book

Happy August, friends! I hope you’re all doing well!

Perhaps this is just me being me, but I love the fact that this new month is beginning on a Monday.  It’s like two fresh starts in one.  I know, it doesn’t have to be a Monday or the first day of a new month to make a fresh start, but it just feels better.  Like, I couldn’t begin a diet on a Thursday.  That would just make no sense.

And as a matter of fact, my own physical health is one of my new goals for this month.  I’m not unhealthy, but I know I could be better.  Working from home, I don’t get as much exercise as I should.  I don’t eat as well as I should.  Pasta is my vice.  And the only thing I actually know how to cook.  I need to get more fruits and vegetables and actual food.  Not just microwave meals and sandwiches.

But you know what?  Enough about my starch-and-carb-fueled nutrition.  Let’s talk about things that are a lot more fun.  Like Harry Potter!

On Saturday night, I got to do something I never thought I would have the chance to do again after 2007: I attended the midnight release of a Harry Potter book.

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Now granted, it’s not an “actual” Harry Potter novel.  It’s a script of the new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is currently playing at London’s West End.  I would love to see the play, but since I’m a self-employed author who still has student loans to pay back, overseas travel is kind of out of the question right now.

Still, the release party was everything I hoped it would be.

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I went to the party with my sister, who was unable to attend the midnight release of The Deathly Hallows because she was in the hospital recovering from back surgery.  Needless to say, going to the party with my best friend and favorite person in the world was probably the best part of the night.  Even if they did sort her into Gryffindor when everyone who knows her knows that she is a true blue Hufflepuff.

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I was sorted into Ravenclaw, however, so at least they got that one right!

We played every single game of the night and filled out every single trivia sheet.  We even played Harry Potter Jeopardy, but it was then that I learned that I am probably one of the slowest hand-raisers in existence.  Sadly, I am simply not fast enough for competitive trivia games.  That’s okay though.  It was a lot of fun to watch other readers and fans vying for the top spot.  And there were a lot of tricky questions, some of which none of us knew!

At one point, we played the notecard game where you stick a notecard with a character name to your forehead and try to guess which character you are.  I was Percy Weasley.  My sister…

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Not gonna lie, I laughed out loud.  When I told her to pose for a picture, she had no idea what her card said.

Counting down to midnight, to the moment when the book was actually released, felt just like it did ten, twelve, fifteen years ago when we all cheered with joy and anticipation of a night spent reading our favorite books, reliving our time at Hogwarts, and reconnecting with the characters, whom many of us have come to regard as long lost friends.

By now, my sister and I have both read the script.  I can’t even begin to imagine how magical it is on stage.  I had tears in my eyes simply reading the words on a page.  Seeing it performed live… it must be the most incredible experience, especially with the cast that they have now.

I will admit, I’m not altogether certain I will be accepting this new story as canon.  I love Scorpius Malfoy.  He might be one of the cutest characters of all time, and I absolutely ship him with his crush in the book (no spoilers!).  But… I don’t know… there were certain elements to the plot that I simply don’t think I’m ready to make my head-canon.  As far as I’m concerned, the true story of Harry Potter ended on Platform 9 3/4 as Albus Potter departs on the Hogwarts Express to begin his first year at the greats School for Witchcraft and Wizardry the world has ever known.  I think his future is still wide open and that great things are waiting for him.

As for my books, I’m currently working on the fourth Cemetery Tours book, the fourth Boy Band book, and two possible new books, one of which is kind of a spin-off and the other is a completely new standalone novel. I guess we’ll see how it goes!