Cool Things

So, I’ve been so preoccupied with my trip to Lubbock and seeing my sister’s first professional production (it was AWESOME by the way) that I haven’t really been keeping y’all up to date with a lot of the really cool things that have been happening lately.

So first, a few pictures from the trip.  Lubbock wasn’t quite as awful to me this time around, but I did suffer some nasty hay fever and my friend totally burned the back of my hand with a fresh-out-of-the-oven baking sheet.  Thanks, Rachel.

Seeing my sister, though, was absolutely the best!

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We caught up on a lot of important issues, like final exams, The Hunger Games, and the new One Direction music video.

There were also several Christmas decorations around, which I loved.

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There was also tea and and an awesome Lubbock sunset.

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Then I hopped on a plane and flew home.  I had a great time, but now that it’s over, I’m so excited for Thanksgiving week, I can’t even tell you!

Okay, finally on to the other cool updates.

First of all, I got to meet one of the most iconic writers of our time and a fellow Texan, Anne Rice!

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My friend and fellow writer (soon-to-be published author) Savannah graciously accompanied me and we had a lot of fun browsing old books, enjoying White Rock Coffee, and of course, fangirling over writing.  We really lucked out too, because I didn’t realize we needed a ticket to meet Anne Rice.  A very kind and thoughtful man overheard our conversation, walked right up to us, and gave me an extra ticket!  What a cool guy!

Ms. Rice, in case you were wondering, was very polite and soft-spoken.  She signed my copies of The Vampire Chronicles and Prince Lestat, which I am very much looking forward to reading.  Then, I gave her a copy of Cemetery Tours.  I’m not sure if that was a gutsy move, or a very presumptuous one, but I wanted to give it to her A) because I admire her work and B) as a way of saying thank you.  I have no idea if she’ll read it or not, but she was very gracious.

The next cool thing to happen is I finally ordered a dragon from Donna’s Dragons!

This is Simon the NaNo Dragon.

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For those who don’t know, Donna is an independent artist who makes polymer clay dragon statues.  Ever since I stumbled across her on Facebook, I’ve been in love with her dragons!  You can find her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/DonnasDragons

Cool thing number three is that Cemetery Tours is featured in Pose Magazine’s December Issue as Book of the Month!  I am so humbled and honored and I want to send a huge thank you out to editor Tiffany Jones for including my book in this month’s issue!

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You can find the issue here: http://www.joomag.com/en/newsstand/pose-magazine-december-2014-pose-magazine/0457396001416541990

Another really, really cool thing is that I recently joined Ancestry.com.  I’ve always been curious about my ancestors and where I come from.  I have found a lot of Yankees, Sons of the American Revolution, Swiss people, and Scots.  It just so happens, however, that one of those Scots is Robert the Bruce.

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This is a picture of Robert the Bruce I took at Stirling Castle in Scotland a few years back. I had no idea at the time that he is, in fact, my 22nd Great Grandfather.

It turns out my dad is a direct descendent of Kings Robert I (the Bruce), II, and III of Scotland.  This is a really cool thing for me, not only because of how much I love Scotland (I love it a whole lot) and Robert the Bruce is remembered as being one of its greatest heroes, but because growing up, I wanted nothing more in life than to be a Princess.  Well, maybe I just have a minuscule fraction of Robert’s DNA swimming around in my veins, but you know what?  It still counts.  Childhood dream is officially a reality.

Finally, and perhaps this isn’t as cool as all of that, but after taking a few days off, I went back and reread my NaNoWriMo project.  Y’all, I really love it.  I love Cemetery Tours also and I’m still so excited and proud of it and the third one is definitely coming next year, but I am really enjoying this new book.  I can’t wait to finish it and get it out there.  Granted, I’m not sure the same crowd that liked Cemetery Tours will be as into this new one as I am, but that’s okay.  There are a lot of readers out there.  And I love you all.

Enjoy your weekend!  Mine is rainy and cold, but that’s okay, because I have warm pajamas and a kitty.

NaNo Update

Hello friends and fellow writers!  How goes it?  I hope you are all warmer than I am.  In case you don’t know anyone who lives in Texas, it totally snowed here last night.

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Look at that.  Snow.

So yeah, it is uncommonly cold around here for November.  I mean, I actually really love snow.  It’s so rare here that every time it comes, it’s like seeing snow for the first time.  Of course, I’m not a fan of the hazardous driving conditions (both the roads and already dangerous Texas drivers), but I love snow itself.  It’s magical.

As far as NaNoWriMo goes, I’ve fallen a bit behind.  I’m still working on my book every single day, but if I’m being totally honest with you and myself, I’m not thinking I’m going to finish it by November 30.  Why, you ask?  Several reasons.

1) I’m fairly certain the book is going to end up being longer than 50,000 words.

2) I’m still working on Cemetery Tours 3.

3) I’m going out of town this week to see my sister in her first professional musical production.

4) My sister is coming home for Thanksgiving next week and I plan on spending as much time as possible with her.

5) The holidays are a time for family, not obsessively trying to finish a novel.  It is very important to finish what you start, but for me, finishing this book in thirteen days is not worth what I would have to give up with my friends and family.

Don’t get me wrong.  I WILL finish this book.  I absolutely love it.  I’m having a blast writing it, and I do think NaNoWriMo is still a good thing.  It encouraged me to begin this project that I wouldn’t have even touched otherwise!  Now I’m kind of thinking I’ll be ready to publish it before the next Cemetery Tours!  But I’m not sure I’ll be one of the ones who is able to claim that they finished within thirty days.  And that’s okay.

Again, I’m so thankful that NaNoWriMo exists.  I’m going to participate every year, I’m sure.  I might never finish within the thirty days, because let’s be honest, November is a crazy busy month!  It’s the beginning of the biggest holiday season of the year!  But I will finish it.  That’s a promise.

Peace out!

New Beginnings

This was a busy, busy weekend.  It actually started Friday afternoon when my mom and took my baby kitty Midnight to the vet for her check-up.  Midnight does not like the vet.  At all.  She’s very vocal about this.  Thankfully, after her check-up, the vet gave her a clean bill of health, except for her heart murmur for which she is being treated.  So yay! I have a healthy kitty!  And she even seems to have forgiven me for manhandling her and taking her to the doctor.

Saturday was a big day, not really for me personally, but for my church.  I’ve touched on my faith here in this blog on occasion, but since this is a blog intended mostly for updates on my work as an author, I don’t delve into personal topics very often.  My relationship with God falls under that category.

I’ve been a member of my church since before I was born.  My grandparents were founding members and my mom has been a member there all her life.  As it turns out, my mom is even BFFs with the Bishop of our Diocese (who also bought a copy of my book… Oh Lord…).  I could probably write a book just about growing up in that church, the people I’ve met, and the adventures I’ve had as a result.  However, the book would also include some less pleasant stuff, stuff that I really don’t want to go into for the sake of my church and the people it involved.  If they read this blog, I’m sure they’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  Hopefully, they don’t.  It was nothing illegal or taboo or anything.  But it was hurtful.  And it was wrong.

The incident that I’m talking about ignited a part of me that, honestly, I wish didn’t exist.  It’s the part of me that holds grudges and doesn’t forgive easily.  It also marked the beginning of a time when, honestly, I did not feel all that welcome in the church.  I still went, but the atmosphere there changed.  I no longer felt God’s presence.  It all seemed a show.  I’m glad I had my camp in the summers, because I felt closer to God there than I have anywhere else on Earth, except perhaps Scotland.

I could ramble on about this forever. The point is, our church went through a phase where I was not proud to be a member.  However, on Saturday, we welcomed our new Rector, and let me tell you, this guy is the real deal.  I don’t know him very well, but just from having heard him speak, I know he’s going to do good things for our church.  The energy he exudes and the energy he ignites in the congregation is extraordinary.  Once again, I’m feeling hope and excitement and joy inside our church.  I feel God’s presence there again.  I’m so thankful to have our new Rector and to see our church revitalized.  I think he’s going to do amazing things, and I hope he inspires our church to do amazing things as well.

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That night, I went and hung out with my dear friend and editor Kit Kat and her new boyfriend and some of his friends.  We played Cards Against Humanity (always a fun time) and then we built a campfire and sat around and drank hot chocolate.  It was lovely.

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And of course, all the while, I’ve been hard at work on my #NaNoWriMo project.  I’m still working on Cemetery Tours 3 also, which I think is going well.  My primary reader AKA my sister seems to be liking it, but she’s really liking the NaNo project.  I don’t know.  I might just have to publish it under my real name.  And why not?  I’m kind of proud of it.  It’s fun.  It’s SO different from Cemetery Tours but you know what? That’s not a bad thing.  I’m proud of both of them.  I think they’re both pretty awesome.  I should, I’m the author, but still!

I’m sure I’ll do a more in-depth update on NaNo later on this week.  For now, have a pleasant Monday!  And sound off in the comments section how your NaNo project is going!

Characters and Controversy

I don’t remember if it was an article I read or simply a comment on Facebook or Twitter, but someone made the point that just because a character is saying something does not mean that it reflects the views or opinions of the author.

I’ll admit, this is something I’ve worried about.  For example, one of the antagonists in the first book could very will be misinterpreted as some kind of social statement on my part.  I’m here to tell you, it’s not.  I write books to entertain, to tell a story, to create characters.  I am in no way trying to inflict any sort of world views or insult anyone.  I haven’t received any notes or indications that readers believe I am, but it’s something that’s been on my mind recently.

Last night, I was working on my #NaNoWriMo project and one of my characters used the word, “Bimbo.”  I’ve never really given the word very much thought before other than to think it’s kind of funny, which might be an insult to my gender, but whatever.  For the first time, I stopped and thought, “Well, maybe I shouldn’t use that word…”  Then I thought back to that article and reminded myself, “Hey.  You’re not the one using that word.  It’s your character.  You might not use that word, but she totally would.”

Being a writer is weird.  It’s like having a hundred different people inside your head at the same time.  You have to think like all of them in order to create a believable world and story.  The weirdest part, perhaps, is that you’re able to.  You can’t think about how you’d react in a situation.  You have to think about how your character would react.  It’s fun.  It gives you the opportunity to be someone else for a little while.  But it’s still weird.

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Hi, friends!  Just a quick note here because as it turns out, #NaNoWriMo really keeps you busy!  I’m not only working on my NaNo project, I’m also keeping up with the new Cemetery Tours.  Needless to say, my fingers are quite tired from all the typing.  But it’s so much fun!  I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy National Novel Writing Month!  It really gets you to open your mind and explore new ideas.  I’ve even been asked, at the end of the month, to come speak to a writing group about it!  How fun!

That’s all I’ve really got to share for now.  Just a lot of writing!  I need to start reading more, also.  I have so many books that I’ve received from friends and indie authors that I want to read and review.  I wish there were more hours in the day!  I wish I didn’t need sleep!  And I really like sleep!

I also wish this dark rainy weather would go away.  I know we need the rain, and it finally feels like fall, but it makes me feel so sleepy and unproductive.  Blah!

Anyway, keep on and carry on, my fellow #NaNoWriMo authors!  5 days down!

Hello, November

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a spooktacular Halloween filled with fright, laughter, and small children requesting candy on your doorstep.

A few girlfriends and I celebrated by dressing up, eating a lot of junk food (and one surprisingly delicious organic and gluten-free pasta dish) and watching Hocus Pocus, only the greatest Halloween classic of all time.

Here’s what I looked like:

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At first, I’d intended to go as a zombie, but then, I found this old veil that my sister had used for something, so I decided to go as Grace, the ghost bride from Cemetery Tours.  How cool is it to be able to dress up as a character from your own book?

After a super successful Halloween, I dove right into #NaNoWriMo.  Well, first I drove out to Fort Worth to hang out with my BFF, but then I dove right into #NaNoWriMo.  I’m happy to announce that I have since earned my 5000-Word Badge.

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Remember, the book I’m working on is NOT another Cemetery Tours installment.  I am working on that as well (Chapter 12 is actually about to make me cry… It’s really sad…), but this #NaNoWriMo project is something that I’m working on strictly for fun and my own entertainment.  If I like it, then yes, I will probably publish it, but I haven’t decided whether or not it will be under my own name or my super secret pen name.

Finally, Halloween may have come and gone for another year, but ghost stories are fun to read all year round!

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Happy November, everyone! How are your #NaNoWriMo projects coming?

#NaNoWriMo

Alright, people.  The last few days of October are upon us.  That means binge-watching Halloween movies, making those last minute costume adjustments, and counting down the minutes until all the candy goes on sale.

For writers, however, it also means that we are a mere 36 hours away from National Novel Writing Month.

I’ll be honest with you.  I never really understood the idea of scampering to write a novel in 30 days.  I thought, if it’s meant to happen, it will.  Like relationships, you can’t push your craft.  For a lot of us, National Novel Writing Month is every month.  However, not every month has it’s own movement, own website, own army, really, of writers willing to take the plunge and risk it all.

Before, I really didn’t like the idea of being timed.  I didn’t like the idea of following a trend (I’m kind of a rebel like that).  I don’t like anything to be forced.  I really like doing my own thing, dancing to my own beat, and not being pressured or influenced.  But the more I thought about it this year and the more people I talked to, the more I thought, hey, this actually sounds like a lot of fun.  I’d also recently had an idea for a YA novel that I would probably be putting off forever had I not been talked into NaNoWriMo.

I’ve got to tell you, I am super stoked to be participating this year.  It gives me something to talk about with friends and it gives me a brand new community to be a part of!  All of us are offering each other encouragement and I just love that.  I will say, however, that I am not telling a soul my super secret pen name.  I have a number of reasons for this.

First, I’m afraid of failure.  I think everyone is on some level, but I’m so afraid of it that I usually don’t even tell people I’m attempting something until I know it’s not going to fail.  For example, I didn’t tell anyone that I actually know (apart from family and very close friends) that I’d written Cemetery Tours until a few weeks before it was released!  No one knew that I’d been working on a book for over a year.  Everyone was shocked, because usually I’m a huge blabbermouth.  I like to share and tell people things.  Of course I do!  I’m a writer!  But this is another one of those unsure projects, and if I fail, I don’t want anyone to know.

Secondly, the book I’m writing is Young Adult and let me tell you, it is not a ghost story.  It’s not even a little scary.  It’s pure fluff.  I’m pretty sure if a lot of my readers (heck, a lot of my friends) knew what I was writing, they’d roll their eyes and go, “Seriously!?  Are you kidding me?!”  My school would probably demand my Master’s degree back.  It is that silly.  But I’m kind of loving it. It’s pure guilty pleasure.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this November?  Sound off in the comments section!

In other news, Cemetery Tours 3 is still moving right along.  I still don’t know when I’ll have a release date for it, but I’m really enjoying writing it.  I really hope readers enjoy it as much as the first two.  Again, it’s different, but I think it’s a good different.

Speaking of Cemetery Tours, I’m going to be participating in a friend’s book release anniversary celebration.  There will be giveaways and Q&As and lots of other cool stuff!  You should check it out here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1481550198784895/?sid_reminder=8758610241320386560

Finally, and I can’t believe I forgot to share this with y’all earlier, but I wanted to let you know that MY SISTER is going to be performing in Lubbock’s Moonlight Musical’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS!  She’s one of 8 Tech students asked to participate in the production.  It’s a HUGE honor for her.  She got to sign a contract and everything.

The production features mostly professional and equity actors including Ken Page (the ORIGINAL Old Deuteronomy on Broadway and the DVD and the voice of the antagonist in The Nightmare Before Christmas whose name I don’t know) and a little YouTube star named Todrick Hall.  I am so jealous that she gets to work with these amazing and awesome actors, but I’m hoping that since I’m family, maybe I can get a picture with them!  Anyway, I am so, so, so, SO proud of her and I can’t wait to see the show!  Here’s an article about it: http://lubbockonline.com/entertainment/2014-10-15/moonlight-musicals-production-cats-using-more-professionals#.VFB_QUJRHzI  

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.

Happy November!

Well, another Halloween has come and gone.  It’s sad because I love Halloween, but I’m also thrilled for the upcoming holiday season!    

The Cemetery Tours Halloween giveaway turned out to be a HUGE success!  It had 302 downloads on Kindle!  In two days, I more than doubled my readership!  I’m thrilled!  I’ll be even more thrilled if those readers enjoy and review!  😉

Now that the promotion is done, along with waiting for reviews and figuring out more ways to get the word out, I feel like I can finally get back to doing what I enjoy most, which is working on my other novels.  I figure that the first day of NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to start!  

I’m also excited about November because I get to see my sister after far too many months of her being away at college and Catching Fire finally hits theaters!  I’m so excited, I’m not even sure what to do with myself!  

In other news, I’m really happy that Boston won the World Series.  I mean, I wish it had been Texas, but at least one of my favorite players and former Ranger Mike Napoli earned his ring!  Now come back to Texas, Nap!  

Again, thanks to everyone who spread the word and downloaded Cemetery Tours!  As hokey as it sounds, you are all helping me make my dream come true!  I’ll always appreciate you!