My Ghost Story

In just a few short weeks, the third book in the Cemetery Tours series, After Death, will be available on Amazon and Kindle (and Nook shortly thereafter).  I can’t wait.  This is a book I’ve been working on for over a year.  I knew what I wanted for it, but for some reason, it took TWO rewrites to get it to where I wanted it to be.  It would have been easy to simple finish the first version and publish it, but I would not have been happy with it.  There was no real plot.  My characters and especially my readers deserve better than that.  So I started over from scratch.

AD

Two days after the release, I will also be speaking to a small group about me and about my books.  I’ve got to tell y’all, I’m not that great at talking about my books, but I’m even worse at talking about myself.  I’m just really not that interesting.  I have interesting stories.  But me as a person?  Kind of boring.

I’ve been trying my best to come up with ideas for my presentation.  I will certainly include a synopsis of the first book as well as a little bit about the next two.  But you know, the question I get asked most often is, “So what inspired you to write a ghost story?”

I know I’ve answered this question multiple times on my blog, but those posts are lost in the binary infinity that is the internet.

My love for ghost stories began at a young age.  I grew up in a house that celebrated Halloween the way most people celebrate Christmas.  My whole family just loves it.  Ghosts, witches, vampires, zombies, I could never get enough.  My mother and I were (and still are) particularly fond of all the ghost-hunting and unexplained mystery documentaries that aired around All Hallows Eve.  I remember learning about notorious haunting grounds, such as the Del Coronado Hotel.  I knew then that I wanted to have a ghost experience of my own.

It never occurred to me to actually write a ghost story until 2010, when I suffered a very sudden and unexpected loss in my family.  Long story short, I was devastated.  I’d never hurt like that before.  I actually felt my heart breaking.  I turned to my faith in God to help see me through.  But I also turned to the paranormal.

I became obsessed in proving to myself that life did continue on after death.  I visited libraries and bookstores seeking rock solid testimonies of psychics, mediums, religious figures, and those who’ve endured Near Death Experiences.  I scoured Scripture for passages that referred to death and life eternal.  Perhaps most importantly, I began tuning into ghost hunting shows, particularly one called Ghost Adventures.

It was during that time that I began writing a story about a guy who could see ghosts and a girl who was haunted by a spirit of a loved one.  It was a mess.  Of course, I never really intended to publish it.  It was just a story that I began writing to make myself feel better.

It didn’t really become something more until I was over at my friends’ apartment one night watching Criminal Minds.  Now, I’m a huge fangirl.  You all know this about me.  That night, I was introduced to Dr. Spencer Reid portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler and let me tell you, it was love at first sight.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  But I knew then and there that I’d found the inspiration for my main character.  He just looks like the kind of guy who would see ghosts and who would be an adorable mess trying to figure it all out.

Shortly thereafter, I realized my story was missing one key element: An enthusiastic ghost hunter.  Cue Ghost Adventures and the creation of Luke Rainer.

After that, the story naturally fell into place.  I knew going in that there would be at least two books in the series.  That soon turned to three.  Now the plan is five.  Both books are already planned out and I can’t wait to write them.  I can’t tell you a lot, but I can tell you that the fourth book is going to be set in Scotland.  It’s going to be so much fun to write I can’t even tell you.  Hopefully it will be just as much fun to read, if not more so!

Until then, I hope you enjoy After Death. And if you haven’t read the first two, I hope you’ll enjoy them as well!  Preferably before you read the third.  But you know, there’s no law that says you have to read a book series in order.  Just do me a favor and don’t tell me if you do.

Love you all!  Talk to you soon!

Advertisements

Another List

Alright.  It’s Friday.  For most people, the week is winding down, they’re wrapping up projects, getting ready to relax.  But as I’m sure all the independent artists and entrepreneurs out there know, there is no such thing as a weekend when you’re in business for yourself.  There is always work to be done.  There’s no schedule.  There is work that can be done every day.  Sometimes, Saturdays and Sundays are even busier than week days.

I’ve kind of reached a point where I have so much going on that my brain has just started deleting information.  This isn’t necessarily a bad problem, because I’d much rather be busy than sitting around and doing nothing.  But at the same time, I really need to remember and stay on top of things and I can’t have my brain just selecting stuff at random and getting rid of it.  That’s just not gonna fly.

So the time has come to make another list of things I need to do and things I need to remember. Because if I don’t remember it, no one else will.

Except for my mom who, thankfully, reminded me that I have a wedding to go to tomorrow.  Thanks, Mom!

Anyway, here we go.  Yet another List of Things Jackie Needs to Remember.

* You’re going to your friends’ wedding tomorrow!

* You still need to buy a gift for aforementioned wedding.

* Write.

* Make sure you have everything you need for Comic Con.

* Don’t forget you have to set up for Comic Con on Wednesday.

* Keep Writing.

* Finish reading Paula Baker’s new book (It’s excellent. I’m really loving it!)

* Write, write, write!

Lurking in the Woods submission due May 31!

* Cemetery Tours 3!

* Stop binge-watching Ghost Adventures.  Zak Bagans is not going to fall in love with you through the television screen.  Just let it go.

* Friend’s graduation on Sunday!

* You have to look nice two days in a row.

* Stop complaining about the weather.  I know the cold and the rain are giving you a bit of an attitude.  Get over it.

* Just stay focused.  So many good things are happening for you.  Keep working.  Enjoy it.  You have so much to look forward to.  Be gracious and keep going.

* Stop forgetting your allergy meds.

* Stop forgetting your anxiety meds.

* Again, write, write, write.

Love you all.  Have a great weekend!  I’ll let you know if I make it through in one piece.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.24.34 PM

PS: All my writer friends, remember to check out my last post if you’d like to be a part of the Lurking series presented by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing!

https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/the-lurking-series/

Haunted Dreams

I’ve always had incredibly vivd dreams.  My mom always says it’s because of my active writer’s imagination. I guess that’s it, because I know better than to eat anything right before I go to bed.  Some of these dreams are a lot of fun, some are incredibly stressful, and some are just downright creepy.  Last night, I had one of the creepy ones.

It began with a friend of mine (in my dream only.  I don’t actually know this girl.  I don’t even remember her name) telling me that she and her fiancé were going to stay in this old, historic bed and breakfast and that she was terrified.  She said that they’d stayed there before and that she had been terrorized by what she thought was a demon in her room.

Now, it just so happens that in my dream, I was dating Zak Bagans (the lead investigator of Ghost Adventures… Who, you know, I honestly wouldn’t mind dating… He’s kind of hot… Anyway, I’m guessing this was all in my head because I was working on Cemetery Tours 3 last night till like, five in the morning).  Together, we agreed that we would go spend the night in this bed and breakfast to see if we could find out exactly what was going on.

The bed and breakfast itself was really cool and really creepy.  We were staying on the second or third floor, and it had old, fancy burgundy rugs lining the hallway and that overall sensation of a building that has stood for a very long time and has kept more secrets than most of us living can remember. My friend asked if she could spend the night in my room.  Honestly, I didn’t really want her to because I’m really scared of the idea of demonic entities, but I agreed anyway.

I had packed a crucifix, so I made sure to set that on the night stand as we were preparing for bed.  I said a couple of prayers, hoping they would protect the room and keep any unwanted spirits out.  But my friend was still in a panic.  She was convinced that this spirit was going to come for her just as soon as the lights went out.  I tried to comfort her, saying that the building was old, it made a lot of creaking noises, the foundation shifted…  It could very well all be in her mind.  But she wasn’t convinced.

Finally, we turned out the lights and settled into bed.  I was a little nervous, but I kept reminding myself that I grew up in a haunted house (it’s true) and that I’d always been able to sleep just fine.  But then, I heard footsteps walking across the room.  I glanced up and saw the reflection of a man’s silhouette on the television screen.  At first, I really thought it was my friend’s fiancé, so I sat up and looked around and realized that we were still alone.

Freaked out, I ran out into the hallway (yes, I totally abandoned my friend) and looked around for a sign of anyone who could have been the source of those footsteps.  There was no one.  However, as I was standing alone in the hall, some invisible presence rushed up behind me and growled in my ear.  I screamed bloody murder and ran down the hall to Zak’s room (wow, this is beginning to sound an awful lot like a fanfiction).  By the way, I have no idea why he left us girls alone to fight off a demon all by ourselves.  What a terrible boyfriend.

Anyway, I woke him up and told him about what had happened.  He went out into the hall to investigate while I stayed in his room like the scaredy-cat that I totally am.  Meanwhile, my friend joined me and I apologized for leaving her, but we both agreed we were not going back to that room.

Moments later, her fiancé came to get us.  He said that they’d discovered a loose panel in the wall outside of our bedroom.  My friend and I anxiously tip-toed back down the hall to where Zak and he had plied the panel off to reveal an old, dusty, wooden coffin.  It was disgusting and horrific, but I was totally intrigued.  No wonder that room was so haunted.  I told them that we should probably call the police or the manager or something before we went tearing into this creepy wooden box, but of course, no one listened to me.  Even in my own dream, I can’t make people listen to me.

They opened up the box to reveal, not the corpse of a person, but of a mangled, hairy beast, with the body of a jackal and the head of a boar.  I know where that came from.  In The Omen, Damian, the devil’s son, is born from the womb of a jackal.  By that point, I was absolutely done with everything having to do with that bed and breakfast.  I begged them not to mess with the body, to just leave it there and let professionals come in and deal with it, but again, no one listened to me.

The dream ended with the body being destroyed and the four of us hoping that would be the end of it.  But right before I woke up, my friend found a note scribbled on an old piece of parchment.  All the note said was, Don’t you remember me?

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.03.34 PM

So yeah, that was my dream last night.  Creepy as all hell.  But it left me totally inspired to keep working on Cemetery Tours 3, so that’s a good thing.

In other news, in the midst of editing horse pictures and playing outside, I’ve totally been overlooking all the work I really need to be doing.  For example, I need to revise my short story for the Lurking in the Deep anthology (Cover release on April 2!!!).  I still have an interview with Luke Rainer to write.  I have a friend’s book to edit.  Not to mention, it’s almost April!  Boy Band will be released in less than a month!  In like, 22 days!  I’m so excited!  But I need to get a few more teasers out and get to work formatting the eBooks.  It will all happen.  I just need to get organized.  Make a list.  That’s always my go-to strategy.  Make a to-do list.

That being said, I should probably go get started.  Happy Tuesday, everyone!

How it Started

Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at my first book club meeting!  I’m really excited about it, but I also wasn’t really sure what to expect, so I emailed one of the ladies hosting the event.  She said not to worry and that she had told her friends to come prepared with questions.  She did, however, mention that her guests might be interested in what inspired Cemetery Tours and how it all started.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 10.59.49 PM

I think I’ve said before that I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories and that I was a little nerd who had all those scary story books and watched the true haunting shows around Halloween and that’s why I eventually decided to write a ghost story of my own.  That’s true, but mere childhood fascination with the paranormal was not the only thing that inspired me to write Cemetery Tours.

I hadn’t even planned on writing a ghost story, to be honest with you.  I was more into the chick-lit genre and was in the middle of writing a college-cenetered story when I suffered a pretty unbearable loss.  I don’t really want to go into it, because it will make me sad, but it was very unexpected and it hit me harder than anything has before.  I began questioning everything.  Out of sheer desperation, I went to the library and checked out every book I could find on the afterlife.  Reading other people’s experiences brought me a lot of comfort.  Writing, as it turned out, brought me even more.

But loss wasn’t the only factor in creating Cemetery Tours.  If it had been, it’d be a much more depressing story.

My second source of inspiration came in the form of Criminal Minds.  I was at a friend’s apartment one night and it happened to be on TV.  That was when I first caught a glimpse of Matthew Gray Gubler.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.  I’m a nerd.  I’m a fangirl.  And Spencer Reid as portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler was the cutest guy I’d ever seen in my life.  I knew after one episode (incidentally, the one where Reid ends up in the hospital with Anthrax) that he was going to be my muse for… whoever my protagonist was going to be.  I didn’t know at the time.  I just knew I wanted a cute yet kind of awkward guy who didn’t want anyone to know that he could see ghosts.

I had several early drafts of the story that fizzled out before I finished.  Something seemed off.  I wasn’t connecting with my main character (whose named changed several times before I finally found Michael Sinclair) and I couldn’t find a way that connected him to his potential love interest in a way that wasn’t stupid or cliche.  All in all, I realized there was a key component missing in the story.

Cue Luke Rainer.

It wasn’t until I made the decision to bring in a hot shot paranormal superstar that everything finally seemed to fall into place.  Luke, in all his arrogant yet charming glory, turned out to be the key.

Interestingly enough, I first discovered one of my Luke Rainer inspirations, Ghost Adventures, the day after that devastating loss.

It was October 24, 2010, and I was so depressed that I did nothing that day except sit around and watch 16 and Pregnant.  Let me tell you, I hate reality TV shows, but that day, it was all I wanted to do.  After the last episode of the day, I began flipping through channels and noticed a show called Ghost Adventures on Travel Channel.  That was pretty much all it took.

Once I brought in Luke Rainer (who was originally a character in another story), all that remained was a name for his ghost-hunting team.  It didn’t take me very long to decide on Cemetery Tours.  In fact, I didn’t even come up with it.  It was a title that my dad had come up with years earlier on a road trip to San Antonio.  We stopped at a roadside Dairy Queen across the highway from a small town cemetery and my dad goes, “You know, you should write a story about a bunch of cemeteries around Texas and call it Cemetery Tours.”

Funnily enough, a lot of people think that Cemetery Tours is a book about cemeteries.  It does make sense.  But no, it’s definitely a fictional ghost story, one that I hope people of all ages can enjoy.

http://www.amazon.com/Cemetery-Tours-Jacqueline-Smith-ebook/dp/B00F7CHQ08/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402361581&sr=8-1&keywords=cemetery+tours