Why Buy Books?

Like many of you out there, I have a certain predisposition to read.  A lot.  On the one hand, I probably spend way too much time reading.  On the other hand, I probably don’t read enough.  Life’s just kind of weird that way.  Now, whenever I find a book that I really want to read, I take a trip up to my local bookstore and grab it.  My bookshelves currently look something like this…

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That doesn’t even include the large stack of books I have sitting next to my bed, waiting to be read.  A friend of mine asked me today, however, “Why do you keep buying books?  Why don’t you just go to the library?  That way you don’t spend money and you don’t have a book that you’ve already read lying around the house.”

I suppose that does make sense.  And I do have a library card and I, of course, love to support libraries.  They’re amazing, wonderful, and very important establishments and resources.  I often go to the library to check out nonfiction books, especially when I’m doing research for a new book.  But when it comes to guilty pleasure reading, I’m personally better off buying books.  And I can tell you why.

  1. I like to reread books.  As I told my friend, there isn’t one book on my shelf that I love that I haven’t read at least three or four times.  It’s like having a favorite movie.  You like to watch it over and over again.  I like to read books over and over again.  Can you imagine not owning the Harry Potter series?
  2. For some reason, when I check books out from the library, I feel like I have a time limit, which I kind of do.  Owning books, I can read them whenever I want, and take as long as I want, without having to worry about returning them.  They’re mine.  All mine, Precious…
  3. You can take books with you wherever you go!  Granted, you can take library books around too as long as you don’t have to return them, but you’ll probably feel a lot worse if you lose them.
  4. They’re just so pretty.  I mean, come on.  Books!
  5. If you happen to meet your favorite author, you can have them sign your book!  Can’t do that with a library book!  I have Rainbow Rowell’s and Anne Rice’s autographs in two incredible books and I certainly don’t plan on getting rid of them!
  6. Speaking of being an author… That’s how I make my living!  For authors, especially those of us who are independent, book sales are vital.  I do donate books to every library I visit and I am happy to do so.  But if people don’t buy our books, that’s kind of it for us. I have a growing collection of books by independent authors.  I love them!  I love supporting those authors who work so hard and so passionately for a dream that has no guarantees.  And there are some amazing independent books out there.
  7. Books are a work of art in every sense of the word.  We decorate our homes with paintings and sculptures, true works of love and genius.  Books are no different.

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So you see, it makes perfect sense to buy books.  It also makes perfect sense to support your local library.  Either way, keep reading!  And don’t forget your independent author friends.

On that note… Cemetery Tours is only $2.99 on Kindle for the rest of October!  Download your copy now!

CT

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Learning to Write

Tonight, I’ll be attending a NaNoWriMo kick starter event at a local library.  A friend of mine is presenting and the event is open to anyone who is thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo, as well as those who have participated in the past.  As y’all know, Boy Band started out as a NaNoWriMo project and has received such positive feedback that I’m planning on releasing the sequel in just a few short months.  It goes without saying that I am a big supporter of NaNoWriMo.

But you know, all this talk about writing seminars reminds has started taking me back to my own days in college, when I was just figuring out that I wanted to write.  Really write.  I remember Meg Cabot (one of my writing idols) advising young aspiring authors NOT to take any writing classes.  She claimed that studying something would instantly kill any and all love you once held for it.  To an extent, I found this to be true.

I took a few writing classes throughout my six years of higher education.  Some of which I enjoyed.  Some of which I hated so much I had to block them out.

I won’t waste too much time talking about the classes I didn’t enjoy.  One of them was screenplay writing. I think I would have really enjoyed it had it not been for my instructor.  He was a bitter, failed novelist and he made it no secret that he did not give two flying flips what we learned in that class, if anything.  The other was a short story class.  My final story was nothing exceptional, although I can’t help but remember it was about ghosts and demons and things that went bump in the night.  It seems I’ve always harbored that dark fascination.

The writing class that I really, truly enjoyed was a poetry class, which is funny, because I am a truly terrible poet.  That’s probably why I enjoyed the class, though.  Because I was learning something new.  I’ve written a grand total of three poems that I’m actually proud of.  Two of which are here.  The third is about killing a cockroach in New Braunfels.

Perhaps my favorite class of all, however, was children’s literature.  Even though it technically wasn’t a writing class, we all had to come up with our own final project to present at the end of the semester.  I decided to write and illustrate my own children’s book.  I’m actually quite tempted to upload it and share it with you here.  I’m pretty proud of it, even though the illustrations and the book itself leave much to be desired.  Still, I’ll never forget standing up in front of the class to show off the book.  My classmates were bewildered that I’d gone with writing a children’s book over writing a paper. One girl actually asked me, “Why would you do that?!” I guess to them, writing a paper was a lot less work, and it probably was.  But to me, writing a book was a lot more fun.  And it still is.

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Jazzed About The Library

This last Saturday, I participated in my second Meet the Authors event at the Colony Library.  As always, it was a fun event.  The people at the library are all just so lovely, as are the authors who participate.  I came home with several new books I am itching to read.  Since After Death will be coming out in just a WEEK, I might actually have a little extra time to read soon!  Hooray!

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I also participated in a new event this year called Jazzed About the Library, a dinner and fundraiser for the library.  It was quite the glamorous event with two live jazz bands, a photo booth, a wandering magician, and eight local authors (myself included).

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My favorite moment of the night, however, was near the very end when my new friend, Chase (author of the self-help book Have a Chase Day: IChase IDream), and I were packing up to leave.  We’d been talking to this one little girl and her brother all day.  She was a third grader, he was in Kindergarten.  This little girl is one of the brightest girls I’ve ever met.  She was happy talking to us for hours about animals, everything she learned in school, and our favorite Disney characters.  At the end of the night, Chase and I both told her that if she ever had any questions or if she’d ever thought about writing, to contact us.  It was then that her dad took her by the shoulders and said, “You see them?  You see how hard they’ve worked and what they’re doing with their lives?  That is what I want for you.”

That, my friends, is the best compliment I’ve ever received in my entire life.  I was so touched, I didn’t know what to say.  I know this little girl will go on to do whatever she sets her mind to.  She just has that spark.

As for me, my new goals for the year include reading and reviewing a stack of books (mostly published by fellow Indie Authors) that I’ve had sitting by my bed for forever.

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I think that is a fairly attainable goal.

Happy Monday, y’all!

Of Pumpkins and Formatting

Today is officially the first day of autumn!  I plan on celebrating with pumpkin spice candles and catching up on some long overdue reading.  Pumpkin bread and some good Halloween movies might also be on the horizon.  For now, however, I wanted to share some excited news!  Two things, actually!

  1. After Death is all pretty and formatted and review/proof copies are on the way.  I can’t wait to see it!  Especially with the other two books!  It’s going to look so pretty. 11855709_284882665020055_753171641304509198_n
  2. I’ve been asked to participate in a series of NaNoWriMo meet-ups for one of the local libraries!  I’ll be talking about my experience participating in NaNoWriMo and encouraging other writers on their journey.  I am so excited!  I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo.  I used to have this really rotten attitude about it.  I though, “Psh… I don’t need a bunch of people telling me to write a novel in a month.  I’ll write a novel whenever I damn well please!”  But the thing about NaNoWriMo is that it challenges you to try something new, to maybe write a book you hadn’t planned on writing.  And it’s SO much fun.  It’s such a great way to open up your mind and take a chance on something that you previously hadn’t given much thought.  If I hadn’t participated in NaNoWriMo, Boy Band wouldn’t exist.  And guess what?  It’s only been out a few months and it’s done better than my other two books put together. So yeah.  I love NaNoWriMo and I’m really looking forward to meeting with other writers, sharing my experience, and encouraging them to keep writing!

As for my personal work, like I said, I finished formatting After Death yesterday and the proof copy is on its way.  It still needs a final read-through and last minute edits, but for the most part, I’m feeling really good about this book.  I’ve also found that the more I write, the easier the editing and formatting process gets.  At first, it was so daunting and intimidating and to be honest, I was kind of terrified of the idea.  But now, I actually look forward to it.  It’s so much fun to see your manuscript become a real book.  It’s also such a left-brained project.  Sometimes it’s really nice to turn off the emotional, creative, la-de-da side of your brain and just rely on the driven, logic-based, task-oriented side.  It’s not a side I consult very often, so whenever I do, it’s very efficient and eager to prove itself.  And it rarely lets me down.  My right brain is very talented, but it’s so easily distracted and it has to have like ten things to focus on at once or it gets bored and it’s very emotional and sometimes hard to work with.  My right brain is basically Dory from Finding Nemo.

That being said, I think I’m going to head out.  My dad is at the eye doctor again, this time for a consultation for cataract surgery.  Good times.  After that, however, I really want to try and make pumpkin spice muffins.  I also need to get started on a new short story for the next Lurking anthology.  Then I might just learn to crochet.  See?  That right brain is never fully satisfied.

The Past Few Days

Hi, friends!  Happy Monday.

Wow, what a weekend it has been.  To be honest, I’m kind of relieved it’s the week.  Of course, this week is going to be hectic as well.  But backtracking…

On Saturday morning, I attended the Melissa Public Library writer’s group again, only this time, I went as a guest to support my friend, Paula.  I’m so thrilled for all that she’s accomplished in the few short months since she published her children’s book, Jack Learns to Grill.  The next book in the Jack Learns series, Jack Learns About Bullies, should be out next month!

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Later that evening, I had the honor of being a guest author at the Colony Library’s annual meeting.  There, I won a $15 gift card to Bath and Body Works (which has already been spent).  I also learned that Jeopardy is more a test of speed and reflex than actual knowledge.

But hey, I totally got to answer The Hunger Games question.

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This weekend, my sunflowers also started to grow!  I realize I haven’t been very good at keeping y’all updated on my gardening adventures.  The sunflower, tomato, and bell pepper seedlings are all strong and healthy, but I’m a tad bit concerned about my butterfly weed.  We’ve had a lot of strong storms and they seem to be struggling a little.  If they don’t make it, however, I’ll try again in the fall in time for the monarch migration.

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In other news, my dad is well on his way to getting that hole in his retina repaired.  We spent the morning with the surgeon who will be operating tomorrow.

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The good news is that other than that hole, his eyes are in pretty good shape (granted, “pretty good” for his eyes is probably still “godawful” for a normal-sighted person, but what are you gonna do).

Since sitting around in a waiting room can get rather boring, I took some work with me…

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The Lurking in the Deep anthology will be available May 7 and I could not be more excited about it!  I’m finally getting the chance to read everyone else’s stories and they are AMAZING!  I am so proud to be a part of this collection!  You can find LITD on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25396970-lurking-in-the-deep

Finally, before I go, I just have to share this.  Boy Band has been in the top 5,000 Kindle Bestsellers for the past three days and is currently in the top 2,700!  I am so, so touched and amazed and I simply cannot thank you all enough!  It is Young Adult, written for a pre-teen/teenage audience, so I understand that it’s not a book for everyone, but to everyone who has given it a chance, words cannot express my gratitude.  Thank you, thank you, thank you all and please continue to spread the word!

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Love to all.

Musings

It’s one of those days where I have like, a bajillion errands to run, so this blog post is just going to consist of all the thoughts stomping around inside my head.  I’m writing this in the hopes that getting it all out on paper (or you know, on a computer screen) will alleviate a bit of the ruckus in my brain.  So here it goes.

1) It has been brought to my attention that the Kindle copies of Boy Band had some formatting errors.  I did some research on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and found out this is a rather common problem, so I went back and uploaded the manuscript myself.  Hopefully the errors will be gone, or at least less severe.  I remember having similar spacing issues when I published Cemetery Tours.

2) I have a lot of fun events coming up!  On Saturday, I’m going to see my friend Paula speak at a writer’s group.  I know I’ve mentioned her before, but she’s just published her first children’s book, Jack Learns to Grill, and her next book, Jack Learns about Bullies, should be out within the next month or so!

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3) Also on Saturday, I’ve been asked to be a guest at the Colony Library’s Friends of the Library Annual Meeting!  I’m so excited and so honored that they would ask!  I love that library.  It’s a wonderful community and so supportive of local authors.

4) Next week is Authorfest in Denison!  I’m a little nervous about it since my Dad won’t be able to attend and it’s a pretty big event, but I think I’ll be able to handle it.  I’m a strong independent woman who don’t need no man.

(I do need a cat, though.  I don’t think I could survive without a cat).

5) I need books.  Lots of books.

6) Sunday I’m going to Scarborough Faire!  Yay!

7) It’s World Book Day!  Yay!

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8) Speaking of books, Boy Band has been selling like crazy!  It’s been in the top 15,000 Kindle Bestsellers for three days now, and for a while, was in the top 10,000!  Thank you all to everyone who’s read it so far!  I love you more than words can say!

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And did I mention it’s only $2.99?

9) Yesterday was Earth Day!  Happy belated Earth Day, everyone!

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10) Lately, I’ve been so inspired to work on the third Cemetery Tours book.  I think taking a break from it and focusing on Boy Band for a bit was really good for me.  I miss my characters and I’ve got a lot of new songs that are providing inspiration for my haunted world.  I can’t wait to get back at it!

For now, however, I need to go pick up my dad.  Since he has a hole in his retina, he’s not allowed to drive.  The eye doctor was SHOCKED that he’d been driving this whole time!

Hope y’all have a great Thursday!  It’s going to be an awesome weekend!

Weekend Photo Album

This was an awesome weekend.  As a writer, it’s not often that I find words fall short, but in this instance, I’d rather let my pictures do the talking.

Enjoy!

First, I was honored to be a guest speaker at the Melissa Public Library’s writer’s group!

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Then I celebrated Palm Sunday.

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Then my seeds began to grow!

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Finally, I got to spend a lovely day with two of my best friends and their horses!  It was so wonderful!

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Such an Amazing Weekend!

Oh wow… where do I start?

I’ve got to be honest, I might share more than one blog update today because I’m not sure that everything will fit in one post!

I guess I’ll start with Wednesday evening.  I had the distinct honor and privilege of meeting Kathleen Kent, NY Times best-selling author of The Heretic’s Daughter and The Outcasts.  She was such a friendly and lovely person, very personable.

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I also took her a copy of Cemetery Tours, which, I admit may have been a bit presumptuous of me, but she was so sweet and excited about it.

The next day, I was delighted to be a guest at the Melissa Book Club.  They were lovely ladies and I had such a wonderful time!  I love going to book clubs.  It’s so much fun meeting and connecting with people who love books as much as I do.

On Friday, I was finally, for the first time in my life, talked into signing up for NaNoWriMo.  Originally, I had been led to believe that people just write books during the month of November.  I honestly had no idea it was this entire website and community that you join!  How cool is that?!  Anyway, I signed up under a super secret pen name A) just in case it doesn’t work out and B) because the project I’ll be working on is YA and SO COMPLETELY different from Cemetery Tours and I want to keep my reputation as a spooky ghost story writer for at least a little while longer.  I’ve got to tell you though, I am SUPER STOKED to be participating this year.  I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!  I even designed my own cover for the book.

Saturday, was one of the most exciting days of my career thus far.  I was asked to give a short presentation on ghost stories at the Colony Public Library!

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I decided that no one wanted to listen to me talk at them, so I decided to engage the audience in a little Ghost Story Trivia!  I think everyone really enjoyed it.

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There was a bucket of fun prizes.

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And consolation prizes.

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This is me, looking dumb while talking.

I also had the honor of meeting and listening to a presentation on Ghost Towns by non-fiction author, Robin Cole-Jett.  Her photographs and experiences in these abandoned places are so fascinating that she’s inspired me to delve more into urban exploration.  You can find her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-River-Historian/195104580538409?ref=hl

Afterward, I went on an amazing history tour of the Colony, but I’ll tell you more about that in my next post.  I have a lot of pictures and one totally creepy story to share!

Before I get to that blog post, however, I wanted to share Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s AMAZING review of Between Worldshttp://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/2014/10/worlds-jacqueline-e-smith.html

I highly recommend Kimba for anyone looking for an honest, thorough, reliable, and all around awesome reviewer!  You can find her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/kimbathecaffeinatedbookreviewer

Seriously, folks.  She’s awesome.

Ghost Stories and Research

This isn’t going to be a very long post.  In fact, I’m not sure it even counts as a post at all.  I just wanted to share a picture of my library’s Halloween ghost story display.  As you know, I am quite partial to the ghost story and I love seeing them celebrated!

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I actually went to the library seeking books on ghosts in history and in fiction for a presentation I’m working on.  Conveniently, I found several right there next to the display!  I’m really looking forward to reading them.  I’ve got to be honest, I kind of love doing research.  It’s so interesting, everything that the world has left to teach and discover.  Learning is just fun.

I also totally found Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell in the YA section, so I will probably be signing off here very soon in order to read it.  I love YA and I don’t care what anyone thinks.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone! Go read a ghost story.  Be scared.  Halloween is upon us!

The Struggle

I went back to the library today to return books that I checked out and to check out some new ones.  I checked out five different books, all on the same subject, for half a chapter of my new manuscript that I need to get written.  Why?  Because this chapter includes sailing and I’ve never sailed before in my life.  I’ve kayaked.  I love kayaking.  But I do not know how to work a sailboat.  This should be fun.

Also, I checked out three other books that I want to read and now I am forced to decide whether I want to be a responsible writer and get to work finishing my chapter or if I want to be self-indulgent and read.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with self-indulgent, since I’ve already spent money on a huge cookie that I did not need. 

And I’ve already eaten it. 

Life is hard.