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?

Happy Bookday!

It’s here!  After more than a year, After Death is finally available in Paperback AND Kindle!

Paperback

Kindle

I’m so excited for the ghostly misadventures of Michael, Luke, and Kate to continue.  I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!

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I want to take a little bit of time, however, to celebrate a few OTHER books being released today: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer, and of course, the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

The fact that my book came out on the same day as all of these ladies is, quite frankly, a huge fangirl honor for me.  JK Rowling is Queen, as everyone knows, and I don’t know a single person whose lives she hasn’t touched with her magical world.  Stephenie Meyer, yeah, okay, it’s kind of fun to make fun of Twilight.  But I’ve got to be honest.  I still love it.  I love the story.  It’s just pure fun and fantasy, you know?  Very escapist, and I do love to escape.

Then, finally, there’s Rainbow Rowell.  I fell in love with her writing after reading the story of my life, Fangirl.  I’m serious.  I’ve never read a book that so keenly described what it feels like to love a book and, frankly, to be apprehensive of the world outside.  Oh my Heavens, do I love Fangirl.

As if I didn’t already love Rainbow Rowell enough for  bringing that story to life, I then got to meet her last May.  She is incredible, basically everything I want to be as an author and as a person.  When I found out that her new book, Carry On, inspired by the book series in Fangirl, was being released the same day as mine, I was thrilled.  And yes, I’ve already run out and bought my own copy.

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Yes, I bought Life and Death too.  I wanted to buy the new Harry Potter, but let’s face it, as an Indie Author, I barely have two dimes to rub together.  I really shouldn’t have bought these two books, but I can’t help it.  I have to support the authors and stories that I love.  And, yeah, okay, I really need to feed my addiction to YA literature.  Most importantly, though, these books serve as a reminder of why I do what I do and why I put so much time and effort into my books.  I want this world of words to be my world, too.

Happy Bookday, everyone!  Go read your favorite book!  Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, go pick up something new!

May I recommend a ghost story?

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After Formatting, After Editing, After Death

Tomorrow is the day.  The next book in the Cemetery Tours series, After Death, will be available!  To share a little secret with you, the Kindle eBook was available last night, but then I was told that there’d been a technical error with the file and I had to take it down.

Cue every author’s nightmare.

Any other day, if you asked me if there was anything I didn’t love about what I do, the answer would be no.  But there are moments, like last night and half of today, when the self-doubt and unforeseen glitches start getting the better of me.  This is a fun business and I love it so much and I love my books and characters, but the act of publishing itself can be very stressful.  There’s already pressure on authors to write books that people want to read, but formatting and making them look professional and seeing to it that there are no (or as few as possible) typos or uneven lines etc, etc…  It can be overwhelming.

I want to be an author.  I want to write stories for the rest of my life and I want readers to enjoy those stories.  I think that no matter what we pursue, there will always be a bit of stress, a bit of fear, especially if we really want everything to work out.  And hopefully, it’s worth the risk.  Risks have to be taken in life.  Otherwise, we’d never evolve.  I hope that I’m taking the right ones.  I like to think that I am.

That being said, I really hope that you all like After Death and that all of the issues have been taken care of.  I know no matter what that I’m going to keep writing.  I have to keep writing.  I truly believe than any author who puts their work out there, especially those of us who are independent, really don’t have a choice but to keep writing.  Let’s face it, I could be making a heck of a lot more money doing a heck of a lot less work.  But I love my books and I love my characters and most of all, I love my readers.  I hope this new book is everything you deserve and more.

On a totally unrelated note, here are some really pretty autumn pictures from my trip to the Arboretum last Friday.

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I also took pictures of my books.

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One Week!

Exactly one week from today, After Death, the third installment in the Cemetery Tours series will be available on Amazon.com and Kindle.  It will be available on Barnes and Noble.com and Nook shortly thereafter.  I am so excited to share this book with y’all.  It’s a book I began over a year ago, but after completing the first draft, I realized I hated it.  It didn’t have a plot.  It was just a bunch of people sitting around and talking.  I couldn’t give you all that, and I certainly want to do better by my characters.

I’m so pleased with the final draft of After Death, and I’ve received very positive feedback from my editors and beta-readers.  I’m hoping y’all like it just as much.  I want to give my characters a good story, and most importantly, I want to give all of you a good story.  You deserve it.

I’m a bit under the weather today, so this is going to be a rather short blog post.  I do, however, want to share the first two chapters of After Death with you here! Enjoy!

After Death Chapters 1 & 2

After Death on Pinterest

After Death Soundtrack

After Death on GoodReads

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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.

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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!

After Death Soundtrack

As with all my other books before, I have created a playlist, an unofficial soundtrack, of songs that helped inspire After Death, the third installment in the Cemetery Tours series.  We still have a little over a month before After Death is released, but I wanted to share the soundtrack with you today!  It’s been such a fun, lovely week.  I hope everyone else’s has been just as wonderful.

If you’re interested, you can find the soundtrack to the first Cemetery Tours book here.  Between Worlds soundtrack is here.  Please note that this is an unofficial soundtrack. I am not selling these songs or benefiting from them in any way.

After Death:

  1. “She is the Sunlight” by Trading Yesterday
  2. “Heaven’s Gonna Wait” by Hedley
  3. “Clarity” by Amy Conrad
  4. “Welcome to Mystery” by Plain White T’s
  5. “A Drop in the Ocean” by Ron Pope
  6. “Reason Why” by Sleepthief
  7. “Painting Flowers” by All Time Low
  8. “Ghost Machine” by Jon Foreman
  9. “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey
  10. “Where’s My Angel” by Metro Station
  11. “The Mixed Tape” by Jack’s Mannequin
  12. “When the Stars Go Blue” by Tyler Hilton
  13. “Still Fighting It” by Ben Folds

That last one by Ben Folds inspired the final scene, which totally makes me cry.  I’m the author, so I might be really biased, but I’m really hoping that everyone enjoys the book as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.  Until next time!

CT BTW AD

Off Schedule

Those of you who keep up with my blog know that I usually post a few times a week, and I usually publish those posts early afternoon.  My schedule has been a little off this week because I’ve been waking up early to go take care of my god-pup.  Okay, technically, my friend hasn’t actually asked me to be his godmother, but I’ve decided that I am.  As you may or may not know, however, I am a night owl.  My natural bedtime is 3-4 AM.  That doesn’t change when I have to wake up four or five hours later.  This new routine has resulted in midday nap time for me, around the same time I’m usually writing my blog post.  So yeah.  Just thought I’d let y’all know that I am still a live and functional.  I’m just sleeping a lot in the middle of the day to make up for my lack of sleep at night.  I love taking care of Dorian, though.  I haven’t had a puppy since I was 2, so it’s a lot of fun taking him on walks and playing fetch with him.

In book related news, yesterday was the two-year anniversary of the first time I held the first copy of my first book in my hand.

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It’s kind of surreal to think that it’s already been two years since Cemetery Tours became a reality.  In other ways, it feels like it was just yesterday.  Writing books, holding those books in my hand for the first time, or even the second, third, or thousandth, is still such a thrill.  I can’t wait to share the new Cemetery Tours book with you.  I’ll admit, I’m really pushing my time as far as revisions go, but I know it will be beautiful and professional and ready to go on October 6.  I have way too much pride to not let that happen.

All that being said, it’s time to go check on Dorian!  I’ll talk to y’all soon!  Happy Thursday!

Cemetery Tours Redesign

Alright, folks.  I’ve mentioned before here that I’ve been considering re-designing the Cemetery Tours book covers.  As y’all know, I absolutely love the designs created by my talented friend, Ben Durham.

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However, the images on these covers are stock images.  They are not ones that I own.  Yes, I paid for the right to use them, but eventually, I would have to repay.  I also couldn’t use the design for any sort of promotional products other than the covers themselves.  I love these covers, but I believe I have the talent, experience, and resources available to design book covers using only my material.  No stock covers.  Everything about the books would be 100% mine.

That being said, if you really like the old cover designs and you really want a “first edition” copy with the original covers, order them now, because beginning October 6, only the new designs will be available.

http://www.amazon.com/Jacqueline-E.-Smith/e/B00F7BPXX6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

As for the designs themselves, I don’t really have a lot of experience when it comes to book covers.  I did design the cover to Boy Band, but I wanted to make sure that the new covers for Cemetery Tours were as high quality as the originals.

I started out with something simple.

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But clearly, I still had work to do.

The next designs were a bit more colorful.

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But to me, they still looked too sloppy.  I liked the colors in the second one, but somehow, it didn’t look professional.  It looked like something I designed in photoshop class.

Eager to experiment with the color scheme, I continued on to the third design idea.

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For a little while, I thought these might be the final cover designs.  I liked them so much that I even designed a cover for the third book, After Death, to be released October 6.

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Alas, after a few weeks, I realized there was still something to be desired about them.  They were too “busy” as one of my Twitter friends noticed.

I decided to give it one last shot.  These are the designs.  I’m certain.

Available October 6, 2015:

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And the cover design for the newest book in the Cemetery Tours series!

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Let me know what you think!

Oh!  And a friendly reminder that you can still enter to #BecomeACharacter in the next installment in the Boy Band series!

https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/becomeacharacter/

Back to Business

After an extremely busy weekend of work and play (though admittedly, I felt it was more play), it is time to get back down to the daily grind.  Of course, for the self-employed author, the daily grind is actually quite enjoyable, so I’m not complaining.  Still, I’ve kind of been in Self-Congratulatory-Fun mode since Comic Con ended and I need to get back to my Okay-You-Are-Building-Your-Future-You-Need-To-Be-Serious-And-Stay-Focused mode.

And even as I’m writing this, I just took a break to go buy “Cups” on iTune.  Focus, Jackie, focus!

Okay, so what do I need to focus on, exactly?  That’s a good question. The two big ones are

1) My signing at Half-Price Books on June 24.

Originally, I had thought that my signing on June 24 would just be for Boy Band, but Half-Price has since contacted me and asked if I would bring all three books!  Of course, I am more than happy to do so.  I need to get to ordering those books, however.  I also need to restock on all my fun giveaway stuff, like postcards and bookmarks.  Comic Con kind of wiped me clean (which is a good thing!).  But I need to stay on top of all that.

2) Cemetery Tours 3.

As I told everyone at Comic Con, I plan on releasing the third Cemetery Tours late September-early October, just in time for Halloween!  That means I have a LOT of work to do between now and then.  I know where the book is going to go, but I am also going back and re-writing and thanks to events and a lot of weird life things, I’m afraid I’ve fallen a bit behind.  June is going to be my catch-up month. I do have a teaser board up and going on Pinterest, if you’d like to check it out and see what may or may not be in store for our haunted heroes (OMG that sounded so cheesy… I apologize): https://www.pinterest.com/windtrailpub/teaser-board-cemetery-tours-3/

I’m especially eager to get back to work on my Cemetery Tours series because of all the enthusiastic feedback I’ve gotten from readers, especially those I’ve met at recent book events and fellow authors. Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.21.05 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.21.14 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.20.53 PM

So much love!

I’ve also been playing around with the idea of redesigning the covers to the series.  I love the covers I have now, masterfully created by graphic designer Benjamin Durham, but the thing is, I used ShutterStock images.  After designing the cover to Boy Band, I’m realizing that I think I prefer using my own images.  I don’t have to pay for rights and there’s no limits on how I use that image.  So, that’s something else to think about.  If you have copies of Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds now, congratulations! You might have limited first edition covers!

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Love to all!