Guest Interview With Miracle Austin!

Today is Valentine’s Day.  It’s a day for love, for flowers, for chocolate, and… for revenge.

Okay, probably not so much that last one, but isn’t revenge so much more fun than the mushy stuff?  At least in the fictional world?

On this day, Valentine’s Day, it is my sincerest pleasure to welcome my friend and fellow author, Miracle Austin, to my blog!  After being featured in several horror anthologies, Miracle is celebrating the release of her first full-length novel, DOLL.

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I read this book in one sitting, and you can find my reviews on GoodReads.com AND Amazon.com.  For now, however, please enjoy my interview with

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Jacqueline Smith: First of all, tell me a little bit about yourself:

Miracle Austin: I work in the social work world by day and the writer’s world at night and weekends. I’m a YA/NA Cross-Genre author; adults also enjoy my works.

I’ve been writing ever since first hearing Drive by The Cars in junior high, which has been one of her biggest inspirations. I rediscovered my writing passion, recently. My first mini-story, PENS, appeared in http://www.leaves-of-ink.com.

Horror/suspense are my favorite genres, but not limited to. I enjoy writing diverse flashes, short stories, and longer works, while threading various social awareness themes into my stories, at times.

Doll will be my first debut YA/NA Paranormal novel, which will be released on CreateSpace and Amazon on 2-14-16—available both in paperback and ebook.

Boundless will be my second debut work, which will be a YA/NA eclectic short story collection; it will release in the summer.

I’m currently working on future works and reside in Texas with my family.

JS: How did you get into writing?

MA: I started writing in the sixth grade, mostly free-verse poems, and writing out lyrics of my favorite songs, usually love songs, in a notebook.

I did write my first short story about a 13-year-old boy. His name was Jobie. Jobie was spending his last summer with his best friend, kissing a girl for the first time, and coping with his untimely death.

I hand wrote that story and don’t recall the title. I thought I kept it, but I must have thrown it away years ago, accidentally. I still think of the character, Jobie, time from time.

As high school approached, my writing was stop and go. An English teacher shared a writing assignment, and I really enjoyed that assignment. However, distractions popped up, as usual.

I wrote off and on in college. I really enjoyed my English, sociology, and children’s literature classes because I always had writing assignments in.

Later on in my adult life, I experienced a very dark time and found myself almost lost there.

I stumbled upon a private writing group with diverse writing prompts.

I started submitting and discovered something—how much I really loved writing.  In fact, writing, this time around, actually saved me… I found a ladder and began to climb out of my darkness.

A reviewer on the writing group commented me on my writing and suggested I should start to submit to magazines, ezines, anthologies, and etc.

I was hesitant, but I decided to give it a try, after a few months. I submitted and received so many rejections. I almost gave up, until that one day, I had a message waiting in my email box, where my first mini-story was accepted.

My confidence began to blossom. I continued to submit and receive more rejections than acceptances. The rejections made me stronger and the rest is herstory.

JS: What is your favorite book? Or if you can’t pick just one (I know I can’t), top three?

MA: I’m going to list more than three.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Carrie  by Stephen King

To Kill a Mocking Bird  by Harper Lee

“The Man Who Loved Flowers” Short Story by  Stephen King

“The Last Rung”  Short Story by Stephen King

JS: Tell me about your new book, Doll.

MA: Doll is a YA/NA paranormal novel. Doll was never suppose to be a novel, only a short story for adults. I started writing it to distract me from the postponed publishing of my first collection, Boundless.

Doll transformed. It started out as 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 12,000, 15,000, 18,000, 20,000, 25,000, 30,000, 45,000, and then over 52,000 words.

The characters took over and Doll was created.

Doll is a story about a mean girl who torments three outcasts, one in particular.

The three outcasts decide to band together in an untraditional way to give the mean girl a taste of her own medicine.  However, things don’t always turn out the way wish, so be careful what you wish for

JS: How did you come up with the idea?

MA: My mom, who has shared other ideas with me for other stories and future ones, told me a story about something that happened years ago with a friend. I absorbed all the information and created my characters.

I recall a publisher, several months ago, sharing how Boundless was geared more towards YA/NA crowd, plus I love the YA/NA world, so I changed my main adult characters to teens.

JS: What was the writing process like?

MA: This is interesting one.

I procrastinated with this one. Believe it or not, I had about one paragraph for the concept, which changed a lot. I even had the cover made before I had one full page written. The cover did inspire me.

I knew that I needed to complete it after I avoided writing for several weeks because I didn’t know where I was going with this story, even though I had the concept down and cover. I just was  so unmotivated.

Therefore, I decided to do something that I never had before—outline.  I’ve read about others completing outlines, but I’ve always been a free bird and didn’t want to restrict myself.

I came to realize that was the best thing I could have ever done without restrictions. The outline ushered me through my writing and kept me focused.

So, I’m now an outline advocate, never would have imagined.

JS: You are also featured in horror anthologies such as Luna’s Children and A Shadow of Autumn.  What inspires you?

MA: Again, I must give my mom credit for many of my current and future stories. She’s my inspiration. She’s always sharing stories about her youth from the 50s and her adulthood. I usually take something from her stories and twist it up to make it my own.

Furthermore, my other inspirations come from conversations (protected of course),  people watching, songs, movies, or something that I’ve read in a book, magazine, Facebook, newspaper, and so on.

JS: What draws you to this genre?

MA: My exposure to horror/suspense arenas occurred prior my middle school years. My mom used to listen to an AM radio station on Friday nights, cannot recall the station, but it would have pre-recorded creepy stories.

I was sold instantly and couldn’t wait until the next airing. Horror/suspense just meshed with me from my first dance with it. I craved it, minus the horror that deals with possession.

JS: Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

MA: I sure am. I am cleaning up Boundless, an eclectic collection of shorts, which was supposed to be published by now. However, I’m a big believer in how certain things must occur before something else, which is why Boundless was postponed.

I still don’t understand it completely, but I accept Doll being released first.

I’m enhancing Boundless and then all the edit rounds.

I’m waiting to see how Doll is received from readers.

I do have a sequel mini outline for Doll 2 already, not sure if it will evolve yet.

I have another story  (20,000 words so far) that’s been on back burner for almost two years called, LoneStar Unordinary Girl. It’s a mash-up of comedy/supernatural elements. A reviewer challenged me to add comedy to a piece and I came up with that one.

Finally, I love writing shorts all the time. I have one that I have been wanting to write called Nightrunners. I plan to soon.

I am currently working on a monster piece for consideration in Sirens Call, a fabulous ezine.

Sine I mentioned Sirens Call, I wanted to share that I’ll be featured with many other amazing women authors in their Women in Horror Month 2016 upcoming issue. My piece is called “The Lock.”

JS: What are your favorite pastimes, other than writing?

MA: I love attending  all types of movies (Marvel/DC Fangirl, by the way) and watching  Netflix.

I enjoy creating playlists that inspire some of my stories and enjoy attending diverse book festivals and comic cons, where I’ve been so honored to be one of the panelists on some.

I’ll be a featured author and a panelist at the upcoming Teen Book Fest by the Bay in Corpus Christie, Texas on 2-20-16. I’m so honored and excited to be part of. This will be my first teen book festival.

The highlights of attending the above functions include opportunities to hang out with great author friends and meet new authors/readers.

I also enjoy collaborating with my amazing colleagues on YAAR (Young Adult Author Rendezvous) , an author group, on Facebook. I’ve learned a lot from some amazing authors and the founder, Patrick Hodges. They have all been so helpful in various ways.

JS: Finally, where can read readers connect with you?

MA: Feel free to contact me anytime and follow me on all the social media outlets.

I enjoy communicating with her readers.

http://www.miracleaustin.com

Email: shadesoffiction@miracleaustin.com

FaceBook: Miracle Austin Author

Twitter: @MiracleAustin7

InstaGram: MiracleAustin7

*BONUS SOUNDTRACK*

Songs that inspired DOLL

#1 You look beautiful tonight-Frank Sinatra

#2 One way or another-Blondie

# 3 Rock with you-Michael Jackson

#4 Every Breath You Take-Chase Holfelder

#5 One Way or Another—Until the ribbon breaks

# 6 Ready to love you forever-Tevin Campbell

#7 I want you to want me-Cheap Trick

#8 Leave-Jo Jo

#9 Count me Out-New Edition

#10 You Belong to me-Taylor Swift

#11 Rich Girl-Hall and Oates

#12 Make me wanna-Thomas Rhett

#13 Going to love you like I’m going to loose you–John Legend and Megan Trainor

#14 Jack and Diane-John Cougar

#15 Kissing Game- Hi-5

#16 Naughty Girl-Beyoncé

#17-All of me-Luciana Zogbi—(cover)

#18-You can do Magic-America

#19-Oh no-Lionel Richie

#21-Bad blood-Taylor Swift

#22-Tender Roni-Bobby Brown

#23-If it isn’t Love-New Edition

#24-Walking after Midnight-Patsy Cline

#25-Blue-Leanne Rimes

#26-Alone-Heart

#27-My baby doll-Toni, Toni, Tone

#28-She’s like the wind-Patrick Swayze

#29My Girl-Temptations

#30-Creep-Radiohead

#31-Everybody Hurts Sometimes-REM

#32-People are People-Depeche Mode

#33-Shake it off-Taylor Swift

#34-Wanna be starting something-Michael Jackson

#35-Walking in my shoes-Depeche Mode

#36-Treasure-Bruno Mars

#37-When I’m with you-Tony Terry

#38-Give Love a bad name-Bon Jovi

#39-We’re not going to take it-Twisted Sister

#40-Waiting for a girl like you-Foreigner

#41-Girl Crush-Little Big Town

#42-I need to know-Marc Anthony

#43-How do you mend a broken heart-Al Green

#44-Unpretty-TLC

#45-Try a little Tenderness-Otis Redding

#46-what about your friends-TLC

#47-All of me-Damien Escobar

#48-With You-Chris Brown

 

You can find DOLL by Miracle Austin here!

Of Scary Stories and Reviews

This week isn’t even half over yet and already, it’s been kind of crazy.  Before it ends, it’s going to get a lot crazier.  I have like, a million things I need to remember to do and unfortunately, I’ve been sick for the last two days which means all I want to do is lie on the couch in my sweatpants and read.  Granted, that’s what I do a lot of the time anyway, but with less than a week before my next book comes and with more than a few book events and speaking engagements on the horizon, not to mention a meeting tonight at church and cat-sitting, I don’t have time to be sick and feel sorry for myself.

Then, of course, there are the new stories that I’m continuing to work on for the rest of the month.  One, of course, is the sequel to Backstage.  That one is just pure fun.  I seriously love writing YA.  I love writing ghost stories too, but they require a certain level of depth and emotion, and it can be draining to pour all that heavy onto the page.  Stories about boy bands however?  Pure fluff.

The second story is for the second book in the Lurking Anthology series called Lurking in the Shadows. I can’t give you too many details about the story itself, but I can tell you it is by far the darkest thing I’ve ever written.  It makes Cemetery Tours look like The Princess Diaries.  I’ve got to be honest, I’m really hoping I’m not inviting in any dark energy or anything by writing this.  I’ll make sure to keep my Bible on hand.

Speaking of Cemetery Tours, as I was writing this, a package arrived on my doorstep…

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After Death, the third book in the Cemetery Tours series, is here!  And it looks amazing!  I’m so, so, so excited!  I can’t wait to share it with all of you next Tuesday!  It’s kind of weird to think I’ve officially written a trilogy.  Of course, it won’t be a trilogy for long.  There are two more books coming!

Finally, I’ve been making a point to read and review the stack of books I’ve had sitting by my bedside for forever.  I’ve been making progress.  One book, Moon Tears by M. M. Frische, I really enjoyed. Well-written, historical fiction about the author’s cousin, I highly recommend it.

I’ve read a few other books, however, that I can’t say I enjoyed, or even finished.  I always feel so guilty when I don’t like a book.  It sounds weird, right?  I never feel guilty not liking a song or a movie, but when it’s a book, I almost feel like it’s personal.  Maybe it’s because I’m an author myself.  I don’t know.  I especially feel guilty when I’ve met the author in person.  Now, I’m not going to say which books I didn’t like.  I don’t want to do that to a fellow writer.  If I don’t like a book, I simply won’t write a review.  And maybe that’s wrong.  Maybe a lousy review is better than no review at all.  But I almost feel like I owe it to the author to give them a good review, just because I know how much time and effort and love they put into a story.  Even though, on the flip side, I know I owe it to fellow readers and reviewers to be totally honest in my recommendation.

Anyway, I suppose I better be off!  I’ll talk to y’all soon!  Keep reading, keep writing!

How M. Night Shyamalan Got His Groove Back

Okay, so my sister and I have this tradition around Christmastime.  It’s called Double Movie Day.  The day before Christmas Eve, we pick out two movies and spend the entire day at the theater.  Last year, we saw The Theory of Everything and Night at the Museum 3.

This year, we decided to push Double Movie Day up a few months because A) my sister was home for the weekend B) and we had two movies that we REALLY wanted to see.

The movies we saw fit right in with the impending Halloween season: The Perfect Guy and The Visit.

As usual, this post WILL contain spoilers.  However, given that one of the films is an M. Night Shyamalan production, I will do my best to keep them to a minimum.

Thoughts on The Perfect Guy

  • This movie kind of looks like an adaptation of The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks.
  • It also kind of looks like a high-budget Lifetime Movie.
  • I can’t wait.
  • Script is a little weak at first, but it tells us what we need to know.  Leah wants to get married and have kids.  Dave doesn’t.  So she ends it.  Fair enough.  Sorry, Dave.  You blew it.
  • Even though I know from the previews that Carter is a creepy psychopathic stalker, the guy playing him is really attractive.
  • His character, however, is so smooth you know that something’s off about him.
  • Public bathroom inside a hole-in-the-wall dance club.  Perfect place to consummate a relationship.
  • AW, she has an orange kitty named Rusty.  I had an orange kitty named Rusty!
  • Oh PLEASE don’t let anything bad happen to Rusty!
  • I don’t think I even need to talk about how fast you run after you see your boyfriend beat someone else to a pulp.
  • Leah, no.  Do not listen to your friend.  She is giving you terrible advice.
  • Karen, you’re the worst friend ever.
  • No!  I KNEW that sicko would take Rusty!  I knew it!  Poor kitty!
  • Oh, good.  Dave is back.  I like Dave.
  • Leah is not a believable single woman.  If my cat was missing, I wouldn’t know how to function.  I wouldn’t be able to live.  I would be curled up in a ball, crying, until she came home.
  • WTF. WHAT. NO. *Spoiler*
  • I feel like this entire movie is a commentary on how the system can’t help victims of stalking/harassment until something bad has already happened.  Leah knows Carter is dangerous.  She knows he’s stalking her.  He has gone out of his way to ruin her ENTIRE life and everything she’s worked for.  But the way the system is set up, no one can actually help her until he does something dangerous and drastic.
  • I do like how the detective is really trying to help her.
  • This is like Criminal Minds with a really good-looking unsub.
  • The house Leah lives in is actually really creepy.  It’s all modern and designer with really big open windows.  I could never live in a house like that.  I wouldn’t feel safe at all.  Plus it’s just not very cozy or homey.
  • I do like the pool though.
  • Provoking crazy people. Such a terrible idea.
  • Oh thank GOD she got Rusty back!
  • Again, you go, girl.

Thoughts on The Visit

  • Okay, M. Night. I love The Sixth Sense, Signs, and The Village.  It’s been a while.  I’m expecting good things.  Good scary things.
  • Small white child rapping.  Stop.  Please.  Stop.
  • Aw, I like the snow.  I know I won’t like it when it’s falling from the sky in February, but since it’s between the months of September and December, I like snow.
  • Old people houses are so creepy in movies.  What’s the deal?
  • Granted, this is supposed to be a creepy movie so I get it.
  • Bedtime at 9:30 and no wifi? That’s a horror movie in and of itself.
  • OLD LADY VOMITING NOOOOOO. EWWWWWW.
  • OMG the game of hide and seek?  This movie is already terrifying.
  • I’m really seeing a lot of classic M. Night in this movie.  Rural setting.  Isolated.  Inside a home where you’re supposed to feel safe.  Eerie nighttime noises that let you know that you’re not alone in the house and that whatever is in there with you is REALLY EFFING CREEPY.
  • I bet the lady playing the grandma had so much fun filming this movie.  It’s probably not often that she gets to scare the pants off of people.  She’s such a cute lady.
  • Okay, I’m beginning to get the impression that the mom is a huge flake.
  • Trying to figure out what the twist will be.  Thinking it probably has something to do with demons or witchcraft or maybe an ancient spell discovered at the well.  There’s sort of an underground/water theme going on.
  • I know the grandma is kind of the possessed one, but the grandpa is freaking me out too.
  • Okay, this might not be the scariest M. Night film of all time, but I think it’s the one that scares me the most and it’s because your grandparents are supposed to love you and take care of you.  They’re not supposed to scare you.
  • Okay, I’ve got to know what this gossip is that everyone keeps talking about.
  • What.  WHAT.  WHATTTTTTT.
  • OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.
  • I am freaking out right now.  I’m not even kidding you.  This is terrifying.  OMG.  OMG.
  • No no no no no no no no no no.
  • I might just be scarred for life after this movie.  Oh my God.
  • Hey, lady next to me on your cell phone.  SHUT UP.
  • Good she hung up.
  • I cannot get over this movie.
  • Aw, this is kind of sad.
  • OH MY GOD ARE YOU SERIOUS. YOU’RE ON YOUR CELL PHONE AGAIN?!
  • I am throwing some SERIOUS shade at you, lady.
  • So rude.
  • Oh, no.  White child is rapping again.  I’m out.

In short, I can highly recommend both of these movies.  With The Perfect Guy, you kind of know what you’re getting, but it’s still definitely worth the watch.  I want my mom to see it.  It’s right up her alley.  As far as The Visit goes?  Congratulations, M. Night.  You once again blew my mind, scared me half to death, and kept me lying awake until odd hours of the night telling myself over and over again that there were no creepy old ladies crawling down my hall.

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.

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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/

The Lurking Series

Hi, friends!  Happy Wednesday!

I’m so happy.  The sun is actually out.  It’s been so cloudy and rainy recently, which, as y’all may know, is very unusual for Texas.  I mean, yeah, we get thunderstorms and maybe even a few tornadoes every year, but it has never been THIS constantly rainy.  It’s like living in Florida or something.  It’s been great for lakes and plants (we’re not in a drought for the first time in YEARS) but you know me.  I like the sun!  I like being outside!  I need Vitamin D!!!

Anyway…

Today, I wanted to talk to y’all a little bit more about The Lurking Series, presented by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing.  The first in this series, Lurking in the Deep, is already out.

Lurking in the Deep Small

I love being a part of this amazing group of hard-working, talented, and dedicated authors.  Jaidis Shaw, who headed up the project and edited the entire 200+ page book especially went above and beyond in pouring her heart and soul into making this book, and now this series, a reality.

Because I know so many of you are exceptionally talented writers and authors, I wanted to share this opportunity to be a part of the rest of the series!  There will be at least three more books, Lurking in the WoodsLurking in the Mind, and Lurking in the Shadows.

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These are all open submission and a fantastic opportunity for published and aspiring authors!  I’ve loved being a part of this series and I’m so proud of Lurking in the Deep.  It’s a wonderful collection of exceptional stories.

Lurking in the Deephttp://www.amazon.com/Lurking-Deep-Jaidis-Shaw-ebook/dp/B00X6MGZNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432145399&sr=8-1&keywords=lurking+in+the+deep

Jaidis Shaw: http://www.junipergrove.net

Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing: http://www.crushingheartsandblackbutterfly.com

Lurking in the Deep RELEASE

Lurking in the Deep, the newest anthology from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing, is officially available on Kindle!  I wrote a short story, “The Water’s Edge,” for this anthology and I could not be more proud to be a part of such an amazing project (yes, I have read the whole thing. It’s AWESOME).  Go check it out!

Lurking in the Deep Small

Title: Lurking in the Deep

Edited By: Jaidis Shaw

Published: May 7th, 2015

Publisher: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Now there’s a reason to fear the water.

Does the water beckon you? Your love, or fears, may become greater in this chilling anthology. From ordinary sea life to creatures of myth, our stories will make you think twice about the shadowy waters that beckon below. Follow our authors into the depths … if you dare.

Stories featured in this anthology include the following:

“Bloodslick” by Timothy Black

“Crescent’s Creature” by K.C. Finn

“Wrath” by Liz Butcher

“A Senseless Eating Machine” by Jef Rouner

“The Water’s Edge” by Jacqueline E. Smith

“The Reluctant Seamstress” by Jaidis Shaw

“Ribbons & Bones” by Kelly Matsuura

“Widow’s Cut” by Andrea L. Staum

“Rhine Maiden” by Isabelle Poldervaart

“The Broken Seashell” by E.M. MacCallum

“Lauren” by Terry Alexander

“Tide Flats” by Shelly Schulz

“Song of the Ocean” by Scott A. Butler

“Enticing Waters” by Gina A. Watson

“Tubular Hells” by Beth W. Patterson

“Dark Waters” by Michael Cross & Emma Michaels

Be sure to join the authors during the official Facebook launch party on May 7th starting at 6PM EST! Join the party for fun games and the chance to win several prizes including ebooks, gift cards, and more!

Link to Facebook party: https://www.facebook.com/events/1389989944654711/

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25396970-lurking-in-the-deep

Purchase the book on Amazon: http://smarturl.it/LurkingintheDeep

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Night of the Living Locusts

Okay, I’m going to get real serious with y’all. I hate bugs. Not all bugs. Butterflies and dragonflies are lovely. But the really gross kind? The roaches and the leaf bugs and the cicadas? Nope.

Locusts are right up there with the worst. This is not a matter of opinion. If we go back to Biblical times, we will notice that there was not a plague of butterflies or a plague of ladybugs. There was a plague of LOCUSTS. LOCUSTS are a PLAGUE. THEY ARE DISGUSTING. JUST LOOK AT THEM.

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EUGGH.

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EWWW.

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GROSS.

This evening, as I took a delightful walk around the park, I was thinking about everything I have to look forward to: the beach, book signings, new books, etc… when all of a sudden… A LOCUST LANDED ON MY SHOULDER. I WAS NOT HAPPY. I was even wearing bug-spray to deter mosquitoes who delight in feasting on my apparently delicious blood, but there was no deterring that locust!

After I heroically fought him off (read: screamed, slapped him off my shoulder, and ran away), ANOTHER locust dive-bombed me from a tree! I had to fight off no less than SEVEN locusts on what was supposed to be a pleasant evening stroll.

As miserable as that experience was, however, it was nothing compared to what may have been the most traumatizing night of my entire life.

The year was 1999. I was eleven years old and I was out at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with my friend Bobby and our dads. We all loved going to baseball games. It was one of our favorite summer activities.

That night, we were playing Tampa Bay. It started off like a normal baseball game. We watched batting practice, ate hot dogs and french fries, and cheered our lungs out for the Rangers.

Then night fell.

There were always a few bugs flying around the giant lights of the stadium, but they rarely ever bothered us. I usually didn’t even notice them. I was too fixated on the game.

If this was fiction, I would say that the crickets started swarming slowly, with one or two strays hopping around at our feet. But this isn’t fiction. This is real life.

Without any sort of warning whatsoever, crickets began falling from the sky. One moment, the sky was clear. The next, it was literally raining crickets. It was like an air raid of locusts. I was freaking out. One landed on my arm, one dive-bombed my dad’s drink. They were crunching beneath our feet and flying past my ears. After only a few minutes, I sought refuge inside the halls of the stadium, but one glance at the cricket-blackened walls told me I would find no sanctuary there. My only hope was the safety of the car, and ultimately, my home.

Dodging crickets, I ran back to my dad and begged him to take me home. He refused. He, like everyone else in the stadium, seemed totally unbothered by the onslaught of crickets. I didn’t understand why no one else was going absolutely out of their minds trying to shield themselves from the hoards of locusts. Where was their sanity? Did these people have no survival instincts whatsoever?

Upon realizing I was completely alone in my plight, I began to hyperventilate. It would go down as the one time in my life my dad has disappointed me as a father. There I was, panicking and dangerously close to passing out from sheer and utter terror, and he was sipping his cricket-fouled beer and watching the game! Like nothing was going on!

I’m not sure how long I sat there, waiting for the game to end, while the crickets continued to rain down on us, but finally, finally, my dad said that we could go home. I leapt up and clung to him, certain that with his height and strength, he could protect me from any bugs that may have threatened.

That was until a man tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Sir? You have a cricket on your collar.”

DONE. SO DONE.

Walking through the parking lot that night was it’s own special form of torture. With every step I took, I heard a sickening crunch of multiple crickets under my soles. It is a sound that has stayed with me to this day. I will never forget. And I will never fully recover.

The end.

Very Short Story at 3 AM

It’s late and I need to be asleep, but while I was browsing GoodReads instead of getting ready for bed, I noticed something.  There are a lot of zombie books out there.  The ones I’ve read are written in first person perspective and it really got me thinking.  What would life actually be like in the event of a zombie apocalypse?  What would I be like?  

It took about half a second to realize exactly what my experience in the zombie apocalypse would be, so I thought I’d write it down before I lost it.  

Enjoy.  

My Experience in the Zombie Apocalypse

Mruuuuughhhhhhhrrrrrrggghrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr grhhhhuuhhu uuuuhrrhrhrhrhgggghhhmmm hhhhhhmmmmmggggggrhrrrrrrrrr.

Translation: I’m a zombie. 

Mrruhghhghgggghhhhhh mmmmmrrrrrrgggghghgrrgr ggggrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhuuuhghr ghmruhgmrghg.  Ngummmrnnrggkkkmmm hurrmrnkrhng.  

Translation: Walking is hard. I’m dead.

Uuuuuurrrrrrrrhgghghghgmrmmmrr mrgghughrmgmgughrrrrr mmgguuuuuughrrrr mmgmmughrhrughhhhhhh mgurhhughrmmgughg ggughgmmrrrughghgmr mggmmmrruuuuuuugh.

 Translation: I’m going to eat you.

Uurrhrnnnnnnnnrhgggukkk.  Mmmmmghghghurrrrrkrnrhghgm nrurhrhrmmmmmmgggggghh huuuuhrhrrmrmrmngngggghk.

Translation: Yum. People are delicious. 

Urrrrrhhhhhhgmmm.

Translation: Since I am a little more than an animate, ravenous, decaying corpse, I actually do not possess the ability to form coherent thoughts or make rational decisions, or any decisions at all.  I am purely an instinct-driven, mindless body.  I don’t even know what a body is.  I only know that humans are tasty and I must eat them.  I’m not sure why though, because I’m already dead, so what?  Will I die again if I don’t consume living humans?  

Nnnnnrrrrmmkkkkhrgrrrgrghhrkkrhg mhrrhrkrnmmmmggkkkkkrhhhrrrrrr mrhuhhrmmghrkgmrughm mgurhrkkrhrhhrhrmurrrr.

Translation: Zombie existential crisis. 

30 Days!

Okay, people of the cyber world, it is June 1.  That means the one month countdown to BETWEEN WORLDS is officially on!

Between Worlds Cover VER01

In honor of the impending release, CEMETERY TOURS is on sale from now to July 1 for only $2.99 on Nook and Kindle.  Once July 1 hits, it will go back to $4.95, so get it while it’s on sale!

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cemetery-tours-jacqueline-e-smith/1117000854?ean=9780989673402

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Cemetery-Tours-Jacqueline-Smith-ebook/dp/B00F7CHQ08/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401672575&sr=8-1&keywords=cemetery+tours

Before Cemetery Tours release, I tried to do some kind of fun promotional thing at least once a week.  Today, I thought I’d give you a few Anti-Spoilers/Bits of Trivia about Between Worlds.

1) I have had the idea in my head for this book longer than Cemetery Tours.  I pretty much wrote Cemetery Tours so I could write this one.

2) It is set in a fictional mansion in Maine.  This mansion was inspired by too many childhood viewings of Casper.

3) Brink plays a bigger role in this book than in the first.  He actually wasn’t intended to be in the book that much.  In fact, he was just going to have a few scenes in the beginning of the book.  But as it turned out, he is everyone’s favorite character, so he ended up being promoted to one of the main characters.  The best thing about Brink being everyone’s favorite, I realize, is that no one ever has to worry about me killing him off.  He’s already dead.

4) I was afraid that this book wouldn’t be as spooky as Cemetery Tours, but there were a few scenes that, when I wrote them, I actually spooked myself.  I’m hoping that readers find them spooky too.

5) In this book, we meet the rest of the Cemetery Tours team: Gail Marsh, J.T. Sawyer, and Peter Jamison.

I can’t think of anything else that won’t reveal too many plot points, so that’s all you’re getting for now.  I will, in the weeks following, be releasing the first two chapters for download (if I remember how that is!), as well as a soundtrack list and ideal casting.  Stay tuned!  And please, check out Cemetery Tours and, if you enjoy it, leave me a review!

If you don’t like it, please don’t review it.  😉

Speaking of reviews, I found out today that you can review your own books on GoodReads.  I decided to leave Cemetery Tours a nice, modest little review.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 8.02.37 PM

 

How to Survive A Horror Flick

As I write this, I am watching Sinister with my mom and my sister.  I’ve been wanting to see it ever since my sister, who is not easily spooked, declared it the most disturbing movie she’d ever seen.  So disturbing, in fact, that she told me that I wasn’t allowed to see it.  She thinks I’m a wimp because I got scared watching The Woman in Black with Harry Pot – I mean Daniel Radcliffe.  

I won’t deny that this movie is very disturbing.  But my sister told me so much about it, that I knew what to expect, so I’m pretty okay right now.  What usually scares me most about horror movies (like The Woman in Black) is when things jump out and surprise you.  I am very easily startled.  My sister is a bit smarter than I am, so she gets freaked out by all the deep, twisted psychological stuff.  Me?  I scream every time something pops out of the darkness and yells, “BOO!”  

Anyway, watching this movie, I realized that characters in these horror flicks would have a much better chance of survival if they stuck to a few basic guidelines.

1.  Don’t go in the attic.  Nothing good ever comes from going into the attic.  The same goes for the basement and especially the woods.  NEVER EVER GO INTO THE WOODS.       

2.  Never tell the antagonist or psychotic stalker or crazy killer that you’re going to call the police.  When you’re in a situation with an antagonist, you don’t provoke them.  You tell them exactly what they want to hear, play along, so that as soon as they leave, you can make a run for it.  Then call the police.    

3.  Don’t try to be the hero.  It’s never pathetic to ask for help, especially from someone who knows what they’re doing.

4.  On the flip side, if you are a side character in a horror movie, never offer to help the protagonist, especially if you are the only person who can help.  You will always end up dead at that pivotal moment when you are the protagonist’s only hope.

5.  The moment you realize there is something wrong, bail.  Get the heck out of the haunted house or creepy forest as fast as your feet can carry you.  

Bonus:  Don’t marry crazy artists or writers who get so obsessed with their craft that they go crazy.