For Independent Authors

As a human being, I have several shortcomings.  I’m not a very good listener.  I hate taking other people’s advice.  I’m stubborn.  I hold grudges.  I have a hard time taking anything seriously.  And that’s just to name a few.  If there’s one character trait I take pride in, however, it’s that I am very protective of the people that I love.

I’m not going to name names, but yesterday, one of my indie writer friends experienced cruelty concerning her books for the first time.  Now, we’ve all had naysayers and bad reviews and the snobbish “Oh… You didn’t want a REAL publisher?” comments.  But when it’s directed at me, I can handle it.  Yeah, it hurts.  Yes, I’ve cried.  But whatever.  It’s no big deal.

When it’s one of my friends, however, I get angry.  Not so much with bad reviews, because honestly, we all get them.  It’s part of the whole writer thing.  But personally attacking someone, not only for writing what they love and what’s in their hearts, but for doing so independently?  That’s not okay with me.  This person accused my friend of forcing people to buy her books, attacked the content without even having read it, and then went on to belittle those of us who publish independently, all the while singing her own praises in the tech writing industry.  And hey, I think that’s a great career.  We need technical writers and they do excellent work.  But we also need independent authors.

I’ll never understand why independent movie makers and independent songwriters are seen as “cool and edgy and dedicated and so, so, so talented” (which they are) while independent writers continue to fight the stigma of “lousy writers who can’t get signed to a real agent or publisher and are so desperate to get their book out that they do it all by themselves.”  Isn’t that a little… I don’t know… stupid?  True, not every independently published book is a masterpiece, but neither are several traditionally published books (I won’t name any here, but you probably know which ones I’m thinking about).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  The independent authors I know do not publish out of vanity.  We don’t do what we do to get rich or famous.  If that’s all we wanted, trust me, we wouldn’t be writing books.  Independent authors write because it’s what we love.  We love telling stories.  We publish because we feel like those stories deserve to be shared.  Publishing a book by yourself is a LOT of work.  Don’t ever think for one minute that what independent authors do is easy.  It’s not.  But we commit to that work because we truly believe we have something worth sharing.  Trust me, we wouldn’t go through all the trouble otherwise.  It’s not an act of selfishness or pity or desperation.  It’s simply an act of love.

That’s why I have so much respect for my fellow independent authors.  Although this is an incredibly supportive community, we’re the ones who take on these tasks and set out to publish on our own.  We don’t have the advantage of multimillion dollar companies or first rate marketing teams.  We have ourselves and the people we love supporting us.  And you know what?  I’d take that over a fancy corporation any day.


What’s Inside

Today, it has been exactly one year since beloved actor, comedian, and Genie Robin Williams took his own life.  I’m still not entirely over it.  I realized that I haven’t watched one of my favorite Disney movies, Aladdin, in over a year because I’ve been afraid it would make me sad.

In the past year, my friends and I have opened up a lot to each other about our struggles with anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc…  Our discussions have lead me to look back on the lowest point in my battle with mental illness and to realize and be thankful for how far I’ve come.  But the thing is even though I’m being treated and doing 100% better than I was back in the darker days, it still hasn’t entirely gone away.  Most days I’m fine.  But I definitely still have moments of anxiety, of doubt, of fear.

I read an interesting quote the other day.

“You cannot always control what goes on outside.  But you can always control what goes on inside.”

This might be true for the lucky ones out there, but it isn’t true for those battling mental illness.  It definitely isn’t true for me.  There was a time in my life when I could control it.  I could control everything.  That’s the way I like it.  I’ll be the first to admit I have major control issues (not when it comes to other people, but when it comes to my own life?  Oh boy…).  But try as you might, you can’t control the little voices in the back of your head telling you you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, something terrible is going to happen, no one wants you around, you’re just getting in the way, you’re annoying everyone you love, on and on and on…

It’s horrible.  It’s impossible to feel good when you have this constant nagging.  The worst part is you know that it’s irrational.  It makes no sense that you should feel that way.  But that doesn’t make it go away.  If anything, it makes you feel worse.

I know it sounds like i’m not better.  I promise you, I am.  We all have days.  I’ve had a few over the summer.  I’ve become more susceptible to social anxiety, which is more annoying than anything, but it’s something I’m trying to work through and understand.  But I’m much better than I was back in 2012, when I was at my absolute lowest.  I didn’t even realize how bad it had gotten until recently, when I went back and read a few journal entries that i’d written before I went to get help.


The low self esteem is back, and this time, it’s not going away.

I’m trying.  I’m really trying to make it go away.  I’m trying to be positive.  I’m trying to engage in things I love.  I’m trying to tell myself that one day, I’ll be exactly what I want to be.  A writer.  A traveller.  Independent.  Confident.  A girl worthy of love.  

But I don’t feel any of that.  I feel immature and scared and crippled.  I feel even worse because I’m reminded constantly that I have no reason to feel all these things, that I’m a grown up, twenty four years old.  I see people all around me confident and happy and able to be happy for other people.  When I realize that I’m not like that, it makes me feel even worse.  

I want to be happy with who I am.  I want to feel proud of myself.  I want to be happy to be me.  I want to be the person I dream of being.  But I’m a time-waster.  I’m selfish.  I wallow in self pity when I have no reason to, and being reminded that I have no reason to makes me feel so much worse.  I try to deny all these things, because I know it will upset people around me if I act on them.  I don’t want to hurt anyone.    

I’m scared because I’ve never thought I would be one for depression.  I wish I could just run away, take some time for myself, stand on my own two legs.  Take some time from everyone I’ve ever known, everything I’ve ever been and I’m expected to be. I don’t feel free.  I constantly have this voice in my head.  “Loser! Worthless! Never amount to anything! No one should love you!”

I wish I had someone I could talk to, who understands what I’m feeling.  I need to grow up.  I need to let go of everything holding me back.  I need to go out and have fun.  I think that’s what really hit me in the face.  That I actually have to be forced to go out and have fun.  Something’s not right. When I struggle to get out of bed every morning, when the thought of living my day to day routine brings tears to my eyes, it’s time to do something about it.  

I want to finish my novel.  I want to feel worthy of love.  I want to feel like the happy, carefree girl I once was.  I want to enjoy life.  I want to be optimistic.  I want to like people again.  I want to feel that life is always worth living.  I want to be genuinely happy for my friends and not always thinking about all the bad stuff that could happen.  I want to stop looking at the world subjectively.  I want to stop thinking I know best.  I want to learn to love myself again.

Okay, so again, this is from three years ago.  I’m a very different person now.  I’m happy now.  I am all the things I wanted to be and more.  I barely recognize the girl who wrote all of that.  But I’m sharing it because I think it needs to be shared.  If I can help one person who is feeling the same way but is afraid to get help, then it’s worth it.

Like I said, I still have my days.  I’ve recently opened myself up to something that I think (or I hope at least) will be a very good thing.  I’m very, very happy.  I’m also terrified.  I’m scared to death that I’ll do something wrong.  That I won’t amount.  That I’m not worthy of this good thing.  One of the my biggest obstacles in my fight against mental illness has been learning to trust.  To put my faith and hope and love in other people.  I can be guarded.  I put up defenses because I’m scared to death of being vulnerable.  But I think I’m getting there.

Living with mental illness, be it anxiety, depression, OCD, what have you, is difficult.  I don’t think anyone who’s been there will tell you otherwise.  It’s draining to constantly be in battle with your own mind.  But you can overcome it.  It’s possible.  Believe me, it’s possible.  And it’s worth it.  Life is good.  Life is so good that sometimes, it makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.  That sounds hokey, I know.  But it’s the truth.  Promise me you’ll never forget it.

Rest in Peace, Robin.  Your legacy lives on.  We love you.


Unless you’ve spent the day away from television, radio, internet, smart phones, and friends with access to those things, you probably know by now that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that gay marriage is now legal in all fifty states!  What should never have been an issue in the first place is finally resolved and I believe, wholeheartedly, that the US made the right decision.  Several of my closest friends are gay and I am just thrilled that they can finally LEGALLY marry the person that they love.  I can’t wait to attend and perhaps even participate in their weddings and celebrate their marriages.

That being said, I wanted to do something fun to celebrate this victory, not only for my country, but for so many of my friends.  That’s why my newest book (and love story!) Boy Band, is on sale for only $0.99 on Kindle!


No, it’s not an LGBT romance, but it’s still happy and fun and colorful, just as our lives and loves should be.

Today was a good day, friends. Love you all.

Signing at Half-Price Books!

Hi, friends!

I’ve not been very good at updating recently. Lots of fun stuff going on including beta-reading, hanging out with friends, writing of course, and my first solo signing event at Half-Prince Books!

1978875_10205935918370724_1165080135047060601_n 10437660_10205935917450701_2683567055530844097_n

10561544_10205935919130743_6353056862442812815_n 10559925_10205935916250671_3368796049634133684_n 11667255_10205935920450776_608357149165821535_n 11058387_10205935921450801_4583269156337026482_n

I had a wonderful time, met some new amazing people, and best of all, I had so many friends and family members come out to see me.

unnamedhpb2 unnamedhpb3

This is Cali, a new friend. It turned out she’d seen Boy Band on Tumblr! How cool is that? Also, please excuse my flushed cheeks and stringy hair. It was very, very hot.  One thing they don’t tell you about becoming an independent author is how much manual labor is involved.


My gorgeous, amazing, wondering mom, who has gone above and beyond everything to support me (and my sister) no matter what.

unnamedhpb 11666217_10205935925450901_168003202237516034_n 11403156_10205935931091042_3873044669079236985_n 10561544_10205935935251146_4277841009313511912_n

So many of my favorite friends!


Friend and fellow author Jeanne Skartsiarsis (


Wild and crazy cousins.  I love these girls.  They’re so weird.


Finally, my former high school English teacher, writing mentor, and Shakespeare enthusiast, Steven Lund!  I was so thrilled he came out to the signing!  He also has a book out (that taught me everything I know about grammar!):

Not pictured but no less appreciated are author James William Peercy ( and his lovely wife, Claudette, and author Paula Walker Baker (

Thank you all for your constant love and support.  You all mean the world to me.

Now, onto the next adventure: After Death, the Third Installment in the Cemetery Tours series! I am having so much fun writing this book.  I can’t wait to share it with y’all.

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):

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!


Love to all!

Thank You!

Hi, friends!  Happy Monday!

Okay, so the next two weeks are going to be crazy busy, but in a very very good way.  I have a lot that I need to get done and a lot to prepare before Comic Con weekend.  Thankfully, even though my dad (who usually goes with me to big events) will be out of town, two of my very best friends, Kat and Rachel, will be there with me to help!  They’re both super nerdy and super awesome, so they’ll be a very welcome addition to the team.  Kat also happens to be one of my editors.

My real purpose behind this particular post, however, is to thank you, thank you, thank you all for all the love that Boy Band has been receiving.  This is the book that started out as a NaNoWriMo project.  I wasn’t even planning on writing it, and once I started writing it, I had no idea if I would even finish it, so to see it doing so well is just overwhelming!

CCkuo5fWAAA2iMC.jpg-large 10423657_10153231031360281_7754921421736451352_n 11144925_10205533863399601_4106234651966849959_n

As a token of my gratitude, I’ve lowered the price of the Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds Kindle Books.  For the next week, both books will only be $0.99 on Kindle (though I don’t think it’s been changed just yet… Might take a few hours).  Y’all are so, so awesome and wonderful and Agh!  I just can’t even begin to express how I’m feeling right now!

I hope you all have a great Monday!

The Talk

Okay, friends.  It’s time.  I’m ready to have The Talk with you.

This may or may not be a good idea.  I’ve heard that it’s something that authors need to stay away from, to not even acknowledge, but sometimes, I think it’s good to talk about the things that we’re told to not mention.

I’m talking about unflattering reviews.

I use the term “unflattering” rather than “negative” because, when you think about it, no review is really “negative.”  The person bought your book, they read it, they gave it a shot, and they expressed their opinion.  That’s not a negative thing at all.  I’m thankful to anyone who gives my books a chance, regardless of whether or not they like it.  I’ve read plenty of books that I didn’t like that other people simply loved.  I love lots of books that others can’t stand.  It happens.  No one is going to like every book and not every book is going to please every reader.

That being said, unflattering reviews can still hurt, as any artist, musician, author, or actor can probably tell you.  They hurt, perhaps worse than ordinary criticism, because the arts are a labor of love.  They’re the most personal example of self-expression that we have.  I got plenty of criticism in high school and college, but I didn’t really care, because I didn’t pour my heart and soul into my term papers.

The other night, I was exceptionally tired.  I’d been outside all day.  I was dehydrated and hungry.  And I received my first “unflattering” review.  I’m not going to lie to you.  It hurt.  I ended up talking to my sister for hours about it.  And she ended up giving me the best advice I think that anyone could possibly have given.

“Well, you can either keep writing, or you can quit.”

I swear, she is so much smarter than I am.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  There was no sugarcoating it.  No beating around the bush.  And you know, I realized there was never a question.  Of course I’m going to keep writing.  I can’t not write.  I think my world would stop if I ever gave up writing.

Unflattering reviews will happen.  Naysayers will always be there.  But I’ve found that for every one person who doesn’t enjoy your book, there will be at least three others who do.  And those are the ones for whom you keep going.

Thank you all for everything you do.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for your words of love and support.  I love you all.


Haunted Valentines

It’s almost Valentines Day.  Even if you don’t have someone special, it’s still a great holiday.  Well, maybe it’s not that great, but there is a LOT of chocolate, and I’m a big fan of chocolate.

Unfortunately, very few people, if any, associate Valentines Day with ghost stories.  Unless, of course, you’re a Ghost Adventures fan and recall that one Valentines Day episode at the Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.  That’s one of my favorite episodes, not because that capture any spectacular evidence, but because it’s hilarious.

Anyway, all last week, I was trying to come up with some way to connect Valentines Day and Cemetery Tours.  This is what I came up with.  Yes, this is just for fun.  No, I don’t think I’m clever.


Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.10.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.11.09 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.12.05 PM

Shameless Self-Promotion Links:


Barnes And Noble:


To My Future Valentine

I have no idea when you’ll get a chance to read this.  In fact, I don’t even know who you are.  We haven’t met, you see, and if we have, well, I guess we’re both in for a surprise.

As you probably know, today is Valentine’s Day.  I’m celebrating it by going out for a single girls’ movie and dinner date with my friend, Kember.  I have no idea what you’re doing.  You might be spending tonight with another girl.  Or maybe you’re at home, reading a book and drinking a nice glass of wine.  Or you could be at a sports bar with the guys, watching the big game (I have no idea what’s on right now), drinking beer, and eating buffalo wings.

I don’t know when you and I will get to celebrate our first Valentine’s day together, but for the time being, I see no reason why little thing like being a total stranger should prevent me from writing you my own version of a love letter.

There’s a lot I don’t know about you.  I’ve imagined you, of course.  I’ve wondered how we met, where we went on our first date, but more than anything, I’ve wondered about how we’ll be together.

I hope we’re best friends.  I hope that we can tell each other everything.  I hope we trust each other enough to enjoy our time apart and to let each other do our own thing.  I hope you have something in your life that you love as much as I love writing.  I hope we make each other laugh, and that you find my numerous quirks and eccentricities charming and not completely embarrassing and annoying.  For example, I hope you don’t mind that I don’t like talking on the telephone for more than a few minutes, or that I’m not good at just sitting around and watching movies, unless it’s a movie I haven’t seen.  I hope you don’t mind I sometimes write sitting on a blanket on the floor at 3 in the morning.

I don’t really put a lot of thought into my appearance, my bedroom is a disaster zone, and most of my dinners are sandwiches or microwave meals, but I’m pretty sure that for you, I want to look my absolute best and hopefully I try to keep things at least a little tidy.  Who knows?  I might even enjoy cooking with you.  I always love baking desserts for Christmas and parties, and not to brag or anything, but my magic cookie bars are pretty much to die for.  That is, if you’re not allergic to coconut or dairy or nuts or chocolate.  I don’t want them to actually kill you.

I learned a long time ago that it’s not a good idea to make a list of things that you hope for in a partner, because one day, you find someone, they turn out to be exactly what you thought you were looking for and then you realize that they’re not the right person for you at all.  What works on paper doesn’t always work out in life.  There are a few things that I’m hoping for, but I’m not going to bother listing them out.  I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, then you’ve already passed the test.

As far as I go, you don’t have to get me anything fancy.  I don’t wear a lot of jewelry and I rarely appreciate going out to eat at really expensive restaurants the way they’re supposed to be appreciated (I’m a really picky eater).  I’d much rather drive up to the lake and go kayaking, or grab a bite to eat at Corner Bakery before spending an evening browsing the local Barnes and Noble.  Or bowling!  I love bowling.

To whomever you are, I hope you have a wonderful Valentines Day.

Until we meet.


Your Future Valentine


I realize this is sort of an odd topic for a blog that mostly focuses on writing and publishing, but I figure that since I wrote a book about ghosts and cemeteries and stuff, this also has it’s place here.

Last week, I was hanging out with a group of friends I see every week.  Somehow, we got on the topic of loss and grieving.  Depressing, I know, but we’ve all lost love ones, some of us more recently than others, and it just came up. 

Unless you’re a sociopath, chances are you’ve mourned the loss of someone at least once in your life, be it a pet, a grandparent, a friend.  Losing someone is awful and it’s painful.  Sometimes, it shakes you up so much that you have a hard time figuring out how to go on now that that person or pet is gone.  In such circumstances, grieving is only natural.  According to a few of my friends, however, it is also selfish.

Now, I’ve mourned the loss of three grandparents, several cats, a bird, a fish, a killer whale, and even my mom’s best friend.  But I’ve never thought of mourning someone as selfish.  To me, it always seemed like the least selfish thing in the world.  I mean, no one likes to grieve.  It’s no fun at all to feel your heart break every time you think about your loss.  

My friends’ reasoning, however, is that when you grieve, you’re crying because you’re sad for yourself.  You’re sad that you’re never going to see that person (in life) again when really, you should be glad that they’re not in pain or suffering anymore.  I get that.  I remember when my oldest cat, Basil, passed away, I was so relieved that she wasn’t in pain anymore.  That doesn’t mean that it didn’t break my heart to not have her with me anymore.  

If you ask me (and technically, no one did, but I’m going to tell you anyway), grieving for someone is not selfish.  In fact, it’s the opposite of selfish.  Grieving means you loved someone enough to miss them when they are gone.  As humans, yes, we are selfish by nature, but I think the fact that we are capable of feeling loss proves how unselfish we actually are.  If we were truly selfish, we’d be thinking, “Oh, good.  One less person breathing my air and taking up all the good parking spaces.”  To be able to love someone so much that it hurts when they’ve gone is extraordinary.  It’s not selfish at all.  Heck, I’d be really mad if I died and no one mourned me.  I’d come back to haunt them!     

Furthermore, how is it selfish when dogs grieve for their owners?  I’ve read stories of dogs who spend the rest of their lives at the graves of their masters.  Those dogs are incapable of selfishness.  Or what about 9/11?  I didn’t know anyone who died in those towers.  My life shouldn’t have been altered in the slightest.  Yet my entire class cried for those lost in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon and in the field.  I still cry for those families.  I cry for animals that don’t have homes, or who have been abandoned, or who have died because they were mistreated or neglected.  Heck, I’ve cried for fictional characters in books and movies more times than I can count: Rue from The Hunger Games, Jack from Titanic, every single one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter.  That might make me a little crazy, but I hope it doesn’t make me selfish. 

I don’t think it does.  I think it makes me… I don’t know.  I can’t even say “human,” because humans are not the only animals who grieve.  I think it means that we are all capable of love and compassion.  I also think it means that there is more to life, and death, than any of us will ever know.