Posted in Uncategorized

I Have a Book Deal!

It’s true!

I’m thrilled and humbled to announce that my middle grade manuscript, THE CRIMSON FIVE: Spin the Golden Light Bulb, has been acquired by Dayna Anderson at Amberjack Publishing and is set to be released in 2018!

And even better, Amberjack has acquired the sequel also.

I’m in a state of shock… A Two-Book Deal!!

I’m so honored to be working with the amazing people at Amberjack and thankful to them for taking a chance on me, a debut author with a larger than life dream and an over-the-top middle grade story. All I’ve ever wanted was to see this story published, to inspire children—to show them that no dream is too big, no idea is too small, and all ideas are worth pursuing—they just need the courage to try!

THE CRIMSON FIVE: Spin the Golden Light Bulb is the story of five eleven year-olds on an adventure almost to good to be true… kind of like all this right now.

I read recently that it takes the average writer 10 years to traditionally publish their first book. 10 years! If I had known that statistic when I began writing my first middle grade manuscript, back in January 2007, it might have discouraged me. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that patience is a virtue and perseverance is everything. For me, 10 years have flown by in a flash—I guess time does fly when you’re busy writing and dreaming, and writing and hoping, and writing and wishing for your dream to come true. 🙂

I began writing this manuscript (my third) in 2012 and for three years after that  I revised to make it as strong, sparkly, and polished as possible. I’m so thankful to my agent, Rebecca Angus of Golden Wheat Literary for seeing potential in this story and for her endless work on my behalf over the last year. My book baby wouldn’t have this amazing opportunity to be born if it wasn’t for her. So thank you, Rebecca. You inspire me every day.

I know this is not the acknowledgment page of the book, but I can’t share my exciting news with all of you without giving a shoutout to my family. My husband, Jim has been by my side through my whole writing journey, supporting and believing in me like no one else. My son, Adam has read every single word of every single revised version of this manuscript over the last four years. This story is as much a part of him as it is of me. And every writer needs a cheerleader too. A believer. A wisher. For me, that person is my daughter, Danielle. No one wishes on my behalf like she does!

To my mom and dad, and to my mother-in-law and father-in-law: You all said I could do this. Thank you for believing that and making me believe it too.

I want to give a shout out also to my critique partners who made this book what it is so far. Beth Hautala, Mel Mercado, Glenn McCarty, and JD Burns…you are gems. Thank you for giving so much of yourselves to me and to this story.

And…to the 5 real life eleven year-olds (who are now 16 & 17 years old!) —Kara, Adam, Meg, Jake, and Julia (my young Odyssey of the Mind 2011 team), the force behind the plot… my Crimson Five Rock Stars: Your over the top ideas, creativity, and teamwork inspired me in ways I cannot express. I had no choice but to write this book!

So guys, thanks for reading about my news and for cheering me on through the years. You know I’m doing the same for all of you. If you keep at it, and keep improving your craft, this publishing thing can happen. You just have to want it bad enough.

In a future post I’ll talk about how the offer and deal came together. Well, as much as I can anyway. I’ve always been interested in that sort of thing and I’m guessing some of you are too. For now I will tell you that the offer came on a day that I least expected it, a simple message from Rebecca that spun my ordinary day, and the weeks that followed, into a frenzy!

Before I write that post though, I’m going to float around in this dreamland I’ve fallen into and keep smiling, grinning, and squealing. I can’t help it. I mean, what else do you do when your dream is about to come true and your fairy tale ending is just over a year away?

Oh right, you keep writing and you keep revising. So I guess that’s what else I’ll do. 🙂

Jackie ❤

Soon to be Published Author!!

They say that good things take time

But really great things happen in the blink of an eye.

                                                                            -Hannah Montana

Posted in Uncategorized

Babies, Blogs, Books & Other Things with Wings

Hey Lovelies,

I can hardly believe we’re at the end of July already. But, I’m more than ready to move onto August. So many exciting things are happening that I can hardly contain myself!

August 16th marks 5 years since this website went live and I published my first ever official blog post! That’s a lot of years. And a lot of posts out in the virtual world.

August 17th marks 3 years since I signed with my agent! Hello Rebecca and Golden Wheat Literary! It took me 8 years to reach this milestone. 8 years! So please don’t let anyone tell you it’ll never happen for you. That’s not for anyone else to decide. Keep writing. Keep improving. Keep querying.

August 21st marks the day my second middle grade book publishes! Yay Flip the Silver Switch! I always knew that in order to tell my story, it would probably take two books. From draft to publication of both Spin the Golden Light Bulb and Flip the Silver Switch will be 6 and a half years. That’s a lot of time spent on the Crimson Five kids!

If that’s not reason to celebrate, I’m not sure what is!

So in honor of all that, I’ll be hosting a really awesome Swirl and Spark Giveaway!! Details will be announced on August 14th  but I will say that if you’re a fan of middle grade books, books of any kind, or are a writer, you will definitely want to enter!

Another major event is happening in August too. My youngest is heading off to college! I can hardly believe that fact either. He’s heading off to live on his own without me and if you think I’m a puddle just thinking about it, you are so right. I’m trying to look on the bright side though. His college is only 20 minutes away, so even though I won’t be stopping by unannounced, I will get to watch him run in many of his cross country and track meets, and meet him for a quick lunch to catch up once in awhile. He’s more than ready to test his wings and I couldn’t be happier to watch him chase his dreams in the process.

But… if I seem distracted or scattered or just all out emotional this month, you’ll know why! Not only is my youngest human baby testing out his wings, my youngest book baby, Flip the Silver Switch is too…and my blog is about to celebrate its 5th Birthday!

A lot has happened in the last five years since this blog went live. Back then, my son was entering his freshman year of high school and my daughter was entering her junior year. Now she will be a college junior and he’ll be a college freshman. Yikes, how the calendar days disappear!

Five years ago, I had been seriously writing for six years. I had two middle grade manuscripts under my belt and no writers platform at all. I was barely on Facebook and I think I had a Twitter account with maybe five followers. I started this blog because I knew I needed to create a social media platform (if I was ever lucky enough to become published) and really wanted to connect with kids who hoped to become published authors someday too.

So as a result, swirl and spark, the site for kids who like to write was born. But even blogs have to test their wings in the blog stratosphere and mine is no exception. It’s grown and evolved so much and now doubles as my author website, but at my blog’s core it’s still a site for kids who like to write. The kids I’m referring to may be grown ups who are kids at heart, but what’s the difference really? Writers love to write stories at any age!

I hope that you’ve gained a little something useful by stopping by to read my posts through the years—whether that’s been for advice, tips, or just a reminder that another writer is pulling for you—because I am and will continue to be as long as you need.

So as a reminder…f you’re a writer in a young stage of the publication journey, just know that all the learning and writing and growing you’re doing is necessary. Your story will test its wings one day when it’s ready to, even if some days it doesn’t feel like it now. I promise you it will fly on it’s own. It has to. It’s inevitable. It’s all part of the cycle. Blogs evolve. Babies grow up. And books find their place in the world.

And now I’m crying.

So…on a less melancholy note,  I’ll be posting the details of the giveaway in two weeks! I’m so thankful that you’ve stuck with my blogging, and not blogging, and blogging in spurts through the years. I could not have continued if no one was reading!

Between then and now though, I have more posts ready to go, so definitely stop back. Gearing up for release day is going to be pretty fun this time around and I want to share the happenings with all of you!

You guys know how much I loath self promo, but it’s all part of the deal, so…

Have you preordered Flip the Silver Switch yet or requested it at your library? It releases 3 weeks from today!! Here are the links in case you missed them in the ten other places I’ve posted on the site!

Flip the Silver Switch on Amazon

Flip the Silver Switch at Barnes and Noble

Flip the Silver Switch at Lift Bridge Books

Thanks for reading today, Lovelies. I hope you all have a fantastic day!

Think More. Work Hard. Dream Big.

❤ Jackie

Posted in Uncategorized

Small Change, Big Deal

You may have noticed a slight change to the site. Or maybe you didn’t. Like I said it’s kind of small, just a change of phrase, a change to the tag line of the site. But though it may be small to everyone else in the universe, it’s a major huge big deal change to me.  Go ahead look up. You’ll see it. 🙂

Swirl and Spark is now my author site!!

I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a brand new separate author site, or even one that links back to this one. But…I just couldn’t do it. This is my website. This is the one I’ve put my heart and soul into for almost four years. This is the one that has allowed me to connect with so many great writers and I am just not ready to let that go. Not yet. Maybe one day I’ll branch out, but for today creating a whole new author site feels almost like a betrayal, like I’ll have to abandon all the hopes and plans I’ve had for the site through the years.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of having an author site. I’ve been working to be able to do that for much longer than I’ve even had this site. I love the idea of having a home base for my books. But Swirl and Spark is a part of me and so for now I want this to be the home base for my books and my author doings as well as a place for the writing community to gather. I know this site is not perfected yet. I have a lot of work to do to get it where I want it to be. Some of the tabs here are in dire need of updating (Hello Book Nook and Scribble Tips!) But just because I have a book coming out next year, doesn’t mean I won’t still strive to bring something to the writing community through Swirl and Spark. I want my author site to be more than a place where people can learn about my books and author events. Sure I’ll be adding that stuff at some point. But I want it to be more than that too. Who knows what it will look like down the road but that will always be my goal.

Does anyone remember Critique Corner? Back when I started this site (in 2013!) it was a periodic critique round where brand new writers (even kids!) could submit their work and get feedback from other writers. It was great fun and I loved hosting that series. But at the time there were other places writers could go for that, and over time it lost it’s popularity. So I phased it out in favor of other things. Some worked, some did not. Today, that spot is occupied by the Writers Around the World series. Although it’s only been up for a few months, the page views tell me that you like reading the interviews—and so do I! So I have every intention of increasing the frequency of those posts and seeing just how many fantastic writers (and people!) we can connect with.

I’ll continue to post about living the life of a writer too because that’s what I do. It’s fun for me to post about what it’s really like and hopefully something I say may inspire you along the way because I still believe that if this publishing thing can happen for me…it can definitely happen for you—if you are persistent enough. 🙂

So onward and upward! It’s time to get back to work. Time to draft, time to revise. Time to stay strong when any of it gets tough. If you get stuck for an idea or on a plot point, go for a walk. Fold the laundry. Take out that work from your day job. Watch Once Upon a Time on Netflix. Think about something else. The solution  will probably come to you eventually. But if it doesn’t, write something. Anything. Usually it takes nothing more than fingers tapping on the keyboard it get the ideas swirling.

Have an amazing day, everyone! But before you leave, check out the Q& A’s at Writers Around the World. There’s great stuff in those interviews, and some lovely writers to connect with.

I’m off to make some coffee and see how much of this next chapter I can write. Wish me luck!

Jackie

Posted in December Book Blast, Uncategorized

December Book Blast: Day 20

Hey there!

And now for my December Day 20 pick…

AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS by Gennifer Choldenko!

December Book Blast Day 20

From the publisher:

Moose Flannagan moves with his family to Alcatraz so his dad can work as a prison guard and his sister, Natalie, can attend a special school. But Natalie has autism, and when she’s denied admittance to the school, the stark setting of Alcatraz begins to unravel the tenuous coping mechanisms Moose’s family has used for dealing with her disorder. When Moose meets Piper, the cute daughter of the Warden, he knows right off she’s trouble. But she’s also strangely irresistible. All Moose wants to do is protect Natalie, live up to his parents’ expectations, and stay out of trouble. But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away.

From me:

I had to highlight this book…It’s celebrating its 10th anniversary of winning the Newberry medal! And what a well deserved honor…I was ultra impressed by the voice and the original plot. Having toured Alcatraz in San Francisco, I thought I’d love this historical fiction story, but I actually loved it even more than I thought. So if you have a young reader on your list, don’t forget this one. Boys, girls, adults…everyone will adore this one!

Posted in Uncategorized

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Hey all,

Wow has this been a whirlwind week! I guess I’m still floating and spinning and grinning over finally signing with my agent. Click back to read last week’s post if you haven’t already!

But seriously, my head is swirling. Like I have no clue what day it is. Or if I already made breakfast for my son. I did right, or was that yesterday? Over the weekend I couldn’t remember what day I signed the contract. Was it last Tuesday or the week before? The kids go back to school soon, I know that. But is it next Wednedsday or the week after? Yikes! How many more days of summer vacation are there? (For the record, there’s 7. ) I’m usually an on-top-of-things kind of girl, but this week has knocked me off my game. Even if it is in the best way possible!

I remember when my daughter was born and I was about to be discharged from the hospital. The midwife told me I couldn’t drive for two weeks. I felt fine and asked her why exactly. She said she had no medical answer to give me, but merely a practical one. She told me that new moms are in la-la land after giving birth. They have so many thoughts and worries and random images (especially of the baby) swirling in their heads that they can be easily distracted while driving.

Hmm. I remember that time, and she was right. And I haven’t felt that way again—until now.

I guess my book baby has sent me to la-la land this week too!

Feeling this way has made me ask myself over and over,”What have I gotten myself into?” Not in a bad way, but in a OMG, am I ready for all this, kind of way.

Embarking on this next stage in my writing journey is like teetering on the edge of a cliff ready to dive into the azure waters below. It’s scary and exciting facing the unknown, even though no one is pushing me off this cliff. I’m opting to jump into this crazy adventure on purpose!

But still. Will I be able to handle the deadlines? Will I be able to polish this story to shine, sparkly enough that it will sell? Will I be able to write any words again? Will my next book live up my agent’s expectations like this one did and become something that people want to read?

And then I think of how long I have been walking towards this cliff (I mean waiting for this next step!) and all I can think is “Of course, I can!” Besides, I get to work with agent of fabulous, Rebecca Angus. So bring it on!!

And I also think of all the comments and good wishes I’ve gotten in person and through Facebook and on Twitter…all this amazing support. And I definitely know I can do it.

The thing is, all this attention (even for a few days) on social medial IS a little overwhelming. I didn’t think it would make me feel uneasy. I didn’t think sharing the details of my journey so publicly would be a big deal. Like I said, it’s amazing to feel the love, and to know I’m inspiring even one writer to keep at it.

But then a well meaning friend shares my agent announcement on Facebook which is so sweet BTW. But in doing so she mentions that I am about to become a published author.

Wait. Whoa. Hold on! That’s not what I said. I have an agent. I’m hoping she can sell my book baby to a publisher. But let’s not get ahead of outselves. That hasn’t happened yet. Gulp. Getting an agent is a huge deal to me. But by announcing that, I didn’t mean for people to think I’m published yet.

*cue the head spinning and feeling like a fraud because I’m not actually published yet*

I forget sometimes that not everyone is fully engrossed in the writing world like I am. Like my writing friends are. They don’t know exaclty what it means to have an agent. They are just happy to hear my news. So instead of allowing my head to spin off my shoulders, I breathe deep breaths and thank them for being happy for me. Even if they think my book is about to magically appear on bookstore bookshelves tomorrow!

Maybe that’s why jumping off this cliff is so exciting. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen next. I don’t know how this next stage in my quest to get my book baby in the hands of young readers will play out. But that’s okay. It’s kind of like watching one word after another magically appear on the page when I’m drafting a new story. It’s a feeling like no other. One word. Then the next. And then somehow, I have a whole bunch of words dancing together. It will happen the way it’s going to happen- one day and one milestone at a time. And hopefully somewhere along the way, there WILL be dancing!

And besides, I won’t be jumping off the cliff alone. I have a very dear friend jumping into the azure blue waters with me…

I am so ecstatic to share that just yesterday, my fabulous CP signed with her dream agent too!!!

Congratulations, Melyssa Mercado. I am bonkers happy that this is happening for you and that we will be cliff jumping together!! (Hopefully the water will be warm. And we won’t crack our heads open on any rocks. Oh, and our bathing suits don’t fall off.

So guys, click to read Mel’s Agent Announcement. You’ll know just from reading her post why she is well on her way to getting her book baby out there. She’s funny, adorable, and has the Best. Voice. Ever!

Thanks for reading my rambles today. Now go out there and write something. You know you want to. And remember, I’ll be cheering for you every step of the way!! 🙂 And now I’m off. I have another story to write while I wait for my revision notes from Rebecca to come. Yay. I can’t wait! This jump off the cliff is going to be fun! 🙂

Living a Writer’s Life

Writers live the best life ever, and the worse life ever. Sometimes both in the same day.  Read on for my take on what it’s really like to be a writer.

Writing

A writer’s routine includes writing. Many don’t write daily, but they write consistently. If long periods of time go between their writing sessions, it takes them that much longer to get back into their story. Maybe they’ve forgotten how their character’s were feeling when they last worked on a scene, or how to access their voice. So they re-read that scene and sometimes another before they can add new words. And for writers that’s wasted writing time. That’s why they try to write every day.

Writers don’t actually want to write all the time. But…writers make writing a priority anyway. Even though they want to binge watch Netflix when they get home from work, or work out, or read a book, they force their butt into the chair and write the words because they know that even the greatest words will never be read  if they don’t write them down… along with many others.

Writer’s spend too much time procrastinating. They peruse their Twitter Feed and stalk their friends on Facebook…even though they’ve set aside sacred time for writing. Then they wonder why they’ve only written 200 words in two hours. True story.

Writers think their stories stink. They also think their stories are brilliant. They think these things every day and sometime both on the same day.

Writers think about their stories even when they’re not writing. They think about the world they’ve created while showering, while cooking, while grocery shopping and even sometimes while they’re talking to their mom on their phone. Sorry, Mom! Not that talking to Mom isn’t important, but characters feel like children to their creators and the worrying, the planning, the dreaming about them simply doesn’t end when a writer turns their computer off.

On each and every birthday, writers make a writing wish. While they blow out their birthday candles, they quickly sum up their greatest writing desire. They wish to finish writing their manuscript. They wish to sign with a literary agent. They wish for a big fat book deal. They wish someone will buy their book, or lots of people will buy their book. They wish for a book launch party. They wish everyone will love their book.

Writers drink warm drinks. A lot of them. They drink coffee. They drink tea. They drink lattes. They drink Red Bull. Oh  wait, that last one isn’t warm. Well, I guess it could be, so whatever. And these drinks seem to fuel their creative energy.

Writers sometimes write in their pajamas. Actually many writers write in their pajamas and don’t shower or brush their hair. It’s kind of a thing, I guess. However, some writers actually shower every morning, get dressed in real clothes, do their hair, AND put on make-up. That’s actually a thing too. I hope I don’t have to tell you which one refers to me.

Writers hate telling people what their story is about. They can write a 70,000 word novel but writing an elevator pitch is worse that running out of coffee. Writers didn’t always feel this way. When they first started writing, they loved telling their family and friends what their next best seller was about. But after seeing too many blank faces staring back at them, and wasting too many words trying to make their story sound as amazing as it is in their head, they realize it’s better to be vague about the whole thing.

Writers panic every time their words are read. They hand those precious pages filled with their blood, sweat, and tears over to their beloved critique partner or agent or editor for the first time and they resort back to the cafeteria as a middle school kid. Will they like my words? Will they love my characters? Will they hate them? Will they think my writing sounds amateur? They think these things if they written three books or even if they’ve written thirty.

For a writer, writing partners are pure gold. A critique partner is like a best friend and workout partner and sister rolled into one. They understand your dreams, they understand your goals, and they know how hard you’ve worked through the years to make a sparkly story. They also give tough love when it’s needed. They are a writer’s cheerleader in the best sense of the word.

Writers wonder each day why their families expect dinner every single night. They feel bad when they order out. But they soon get over it because by not spending an hour cooking a meal that’s devoured in five minutes flat, they’ll have time to write 500 more words. And there won’t be any clean up.

With that said, writers love their crock pots. Or at least they want to. They want the ingredients they throw in there to magically turn into a gourmet feast. Because, ya know writers are good at dreaming.

Writers work at other jobs to pay the bills. Unless they are JK Rolling, independently wealthy, or have another source of income in their family, they find other ways to make money. They do freelance work, they work another job, or they sell their stuff on Craigslist. How’s that for reality?

Writers experience serious self doubt about their chosen profession. But they write anyway because they love to write. And they are gluttons for punishment. They spend too much time staring at a blank screen wondering if their idea is any good. But then another idea sparks and they splash it up on that blank page. Then the doubt is gone and replaced by a great sense of accomplishment.

Writers spend and awful lot of time by themselves. Most writers love this. It’s not a death sentence. It’s glorious time spent with their laptop, coffee, and the imaginary world they’ve created from nothing. It exhilarates them. It’s better than sunning themselves on a beach. Well, maybe not quite but you get the idea.

Writers write the stories that must be written. Writers constantly have stories that live in their heads, begging to be told. They write them in the car while waiting for their child to finish practice. They write late at night when the house is finally quiet. While other people are sleeping in or getting up at 5am to workout, writers are writing. Because that story swirling in their head insists on it.

Writers find inspiration in anything. Music. People. Places. Situations. Experiences. Pets. That’s why they do more than sit at their desk or in a coffee shop. They go outside. They run. They walk.They talk to people. They travel. And they love people watching. Oh, and people listening. But then they turn into hermits again. Because well, they’re writers.

Writers read their horoscope. They read tarot cards. They look for angel signs…or any signs that will tell them their manuscript is good enough and will become a real book someday.

Writers love Staples and Office Depot. They love pens. They love paper. They love notebooks and pencils. They love sticky notes, index cards, and pretty journals. They do.

Writers love to talk to other writers about their stories. And they especially love meeting their writing friends for coffee. No one knows the challenges and successes a writer feels, like another writer.

Writers love belonging to this secret club of writing people. They know how hard it is to write a complete story from beginning to middle to end, full of amazing characters, world class goals, unthinkable obstacles, and emotion that runs off the charts. They know what it takes to write a stellar picture book, hysterically heartfelt middle grade story, or gut wrenching YA novel. They get it and they’ve done it, and that’s kind of exclusive.

Writers celebrate writing successes. Like when they finish their first draft, when they finish revising, when they get their first full manuscript request, when they sign with an agent, when they get a book deal. There’s often chocolate. Usually wine. Always hugs and screams and sharing on Twitter.

Writers are genuinely excited for other writers when they achieve success  too. And not only because they think if it can happen to another writer it can happen to them too. It’s because another baby story is about to be born at the hand of a fellow writer who has worked just as hard as they have, and maybe harder. They love seeing other people’s dreams come true.

A writer’s life is a great one, because writers get to write. They get to share their stories with other people. They get to be creative. But it takes a patient person to enjoy all that goes along with it, that’s for sure.

So writers keep writing. They keep creating. They keep the words coming. They keep buying pencils, and drinking coffee. They know one day there’ll be chocolate and lots of readers for their story. They know their book will save the day for a young boy or girl one day… and that’s why so many writers knowingly choose to live this crazy writing life.

For more posts on living life as a writer, click the links below:

4 Signs You May not Fit the Writer’s Stereotype

An Open Letter to my Future Reader

I Have an Agent Announcement

What Happens After you Sign with a Literary Agent

Things You Imagine While Out on Sub

I Have a Book Deal

Posted in Publishing, Spin the Golden Light Bulb

Spin the Golden Light Bulb turns 1!

Hey sweet friends,

I can hardly believe it. Today marks one year since Spin the Golden Light Bulb was published, and the official end of my debut year. It’s a little bittersweet. My book baby has grown up right before my very eyes!

One year ago, hardly anyone knew it even existed. Now many readers do. They know my characters, like Kia, Ander, Mare, Jax, and Jillian. They know all about the Piedmont Challenge, and they even know quotes from the book—ones that I scribbled in my notebook over seven years ago! It’s still strange to think that, but also wonderful too. The first phrase I ever wrote in my red notebook as I brainstormed the plot was this…

I know my chances stink. But somebody has to win—I pick me.

And now not only are these words actually found in the book (on page 5), but people have read them…and they’ve read the other words too. I sometimes still pinch myself over that! So just because, I thought I’d share a few other highlights from my debut novel’s first year out in the world too…

A few days before release day, my husband and I stopped by our local Barnes & Noble to see where my book would be shelved eventually, in case they ever decided to stock it. I literally (and audibly!) gasped to see it already displayed—on an actual bookstore shelf!

On release day, we had a launch party for Spin the Golden Light Bulb at the elementary school where I worked as a reading teacher. It’s the place where I wrote parts of my first manuscript—the one that happily stays hidden in my desk drawer now. Over 100 of my closest family and friends attended—and bought copies of my books! I didn’t even think I knew that many people!

Signing those books was surreal (there’s that word again!) and I’m grateful to each and every person that spent that magical night with me. I signed my very first copy for my daughter, and as I took out my golden pen and looked out at the crowd of people, I felt like I was living a dream.

I found it hard to keep it together when the real kids behind the Crimson Five kids (my World Finals Odyssey of the Mind team) gathered around me for a picture with the book. The kids on the team, which included my son, were just eleven years old when I first toyed with the idea of writing an Odyssey of the Mind inspired book. That night they stood next to me as 18 year-olds on the verge of graduating high school. They were the perfect inspiration for the characters and I was thrilled to finally be able to share their story (even if it was an over the top version!) with all of them! It was a night I’ll for sure, never forget.

I did my first book signings and school visits in the spring. It was all kinds of amazing to chat with kids about publishing and the making of Spin the Golden Light Bulb! When people say you will never forget your first few book signings, they aren’t kidding. Some were attended by almost a hundred people. Some were attended by two. But all of them were fun because well, I was doing a book signing. Something I had dreamed of doing for over ten years!

Spin the Golden Light Bulb welcomed her sibling book, Flip the Silver Switch into the world over the summer on August 21, 2018. I don’t think she minded sharing the spotlight though. We had a smaller scale launch for FTSS basically because I felt bad asking my friends and family to do the whole book launch thing again with me so soon! And because STGLB had only been out for six months, it actually felt like another launch for it too!

In the fall, I met my Kids Need Mentors teacher, Erin and her class of 5th graders. I read chapter one of Spin the Golden Light Bulb to them during their first week of school, and received letters from them a few weeks later. How cool is that?

Spin the Golden Light Bulb made it’s first appearance at the Rochester Children’s Book Festival in November. It’s my hometown book fest, the biggest of its kind in the area and I was honored and thrilled to finally participate as a published author! I was interviewed live by our local TV station and yikes that was scary! I guess in a year of firsts, that one was definitely memorable!

In a surprise ending to debut year, Spin the Golden Light Bulb was named by the Children’s Book Council and the National Science Teachers of America to their 2019 Best STEM Books K-12 List! I was and still am humbled and thrilled to receive such an honor.

There were so many other highlights from this year but to be honest, I can hardly wrap my head around them all. The whole year has truly been a blur! I feel so grateful and I want to thank everyone who made my first published book’s debut year truly wonderful. The team at Amberjack Publishing and my agent, Rebecca Angus made this dream come true. I am forever grateful for their belief that readers would love this story as much as I do. So many people have been my cheerleaders this year: The Electric 18s. The booksellers. The teachers. The librarians. The bloggers. The reviewers. The parents. The children. My family. My friends. You’ve all help spread the word about my book and showered me with kind words. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I never posted the acknowledgments pages because it honestly never occurred to me. But so many people play a role in bringing a book to life and so today I want to share my thoughts on that with you. For those of you interested, here they are!

Thanks sweet friends for following along on my journey. You have constantly made me feel like publishing my first book is a big deal, even when author imposter syndrome set in and I felt like I was just pretending…playing dress up as an author! Now that I have a year as an author under my belt, I finally feel like I am.

So with that, I’m off to celebrate. I’ll be toasting at 6:30pm with this lovely bottle of wine I received at my launch party one year ago tonight. I may even read a few chapters—of my very first published book!

Thanks for checking in, sweet friends and remember…if you ever wonder if dreams really do come true. I’m here to say they do. They really do!

Until next time~

Think More. Work Hard. Dream Big!

Jackie

Posted in Uncategorized

To Launch Party or Not to Launch Party?

Hey Lovelies,

7 Days!! Ohmygosh, we’re one week out from release of Flip the Silver Switch and I’m not gonna lie. It is NOT easier the second time around! I was thinking I would be a seasoned pro by the time my second book published but here we are seven months later and NOPE—not a seasoned pro at all! I am most definitely freaking out.

I promised myself I wouldn’t t be nervous this time, or anxious in any way. Because really what’s the point? What good does worrying do anyway? It’s just your mind imagining the worst possible outcome…and as my favorite character Kia Krumpet would say, “I definitely DO NOT want to imagine the worst possible outcome!”

But… people are going to be reading my book in just 7 short days. And what if none of the bookstores stock this one? What if librarians say, “No thanks?” What if it gets bad reviews? What if I haven’t done all I can to help promote it? What if it doesn’t sell at all? What if no one comes to my launch party?

I worried about all of these things when Spin the Golden Light Bulb launched in January and this time is no different. But, even thought I’m still not a seasoned pro, I guess there is one thing I’ve learned this time around. And so I’m doing everything I can do remember it…

Take care of the things you can control, and forget about the rest.

Yes, people are going to read my book. That’s a good thing! My story will soon be in the hands of readers and that’s why I wrote it, right? So no reason to be anxious at all.

And, Amberjack has an incredible sales and marketing team. They are professionals—the experts at that sort of thing. Sure, I can use my social media platform to help spread the word about it—and I have, but at the end of the day, I have little control over sales. I’ve done the hard part. I’ve written the best book I can. Hopefully there will be booksellers, librarians, and readers who love the story as much as I do…as much as my agent does, and as much as my team at Amberjack does. Fingers crossed on that one!

So that leaves one thing…

What if no one comes to my launch party?

This was my BIG worry for the launch of Spin the Golden Light Bulb. It was a private event and I had invited my family and closest friends not knowing how many of them would come. And if they did attend, I was convinced they would stop in for a few minutes just to be nice! Well, many DID attend (like over 100 people!) and though I’ll never know how many of them came just to be nice, they were there for the whole duration and it was wonderful—definitely a night I will never forget!

But, that night was only seven months ago. How could I ask my family and friends to attend another launch party for me? It was strange enough the first time hosting a party for myself. No way was I going to do that again! Besides, it was a lot of work to organize and I wasn’t sure I had it in me again so soon. So I decided not to have one.

Hmm.

Well, here’s the thing. I realized several weeks ago that Flip the Silver Switch deserves a launch party too. So much of my heart and hard work went into the creation of  it. So much hard work (and heart) of other people went into the creation of it too and we DO all want to launch it into the world with love. It may be weird (in a good way!) that it’s publishing so soon after Spin the Golden Light Bulb, but that was the plan right from the start…considering it IS a sequel after all! I mean publishing a book is A VERY BIG DEAL—no matter when it happens. For me, it’s my second book baby. My story is actually a REAL BOOK! It’s like my second child. I love my second child every bit as much as my first, and even though they were born relatively close together, I still celebrated his arrival, right? I did! And so…

To launch party or not?

Yes!! We’re having a launch party!

AND YOU’RE ALL INVITED!

This time around, it’s not a private event though. We’re having a Flip the Silver Switch Book Birthday Party at my favorite independent bookstore Lift Bridge Books so it’s open to everyone. (Yikes!) It’s happening on Saturday, August 25th from 2-4. If you’re local in Rochester (specifically Brockport), please stop by and say hello! We’re having treats, kids activities, giving away bookish prizes, and I’ll be signing copies of this…

 

Details for the event can be found here on my Facebook Author Page and also on the  EVENTS page.

But don’t think for a second that I’m not a teeny bit anxious. Like I said, giving birth to a book is a BIG DEAL!

But that’s not all my news today. In keeping with the celebratory theme, I mentioned last time that I’m  celebrating the 5 year Blog-iversary of Swirl and Spark with a Giveaway!!  I’ll be posting all the good stuff on Thursday, the actual 5 year Blog-iversary date! Check back then because I’m certain you’ll want to enter.

Don’t forget. And don’t forget to tell your friends. I think they may want to enter too!

Until then, I’ll be spending most of this week finalizing college prep stuff for my two kids. I mentioned last time that my son leaves for college on the 19th. Yes, the 19th. That’s so soon! My daughter has a week longer but also so much stuff to do before her first day back too. So…pretty busy in this household as we gear up for the Blog-iversary, College send off, Flip the Silver Switch Release Day, and Flip the Silver Switch Launch Party!

Have I mentioned I really can’t wait for September??

Did you notice that I made no mention of writing? That’s one reason I really can’t wait for September. I’m looking so forward to diving back into my WIP. But what about you? Have you been writing lately?

The lazy days of summer are upon us (well for some of us) so I hope you’re one of those lucky ones enjoying the tranquility! But I hope you’re writing too—or at least thinking about your story. That counts as writing too. Without the calm thinking time, there can be no creative ideas. Our minds just don’t work that way. So enjoy the calm as much as you can. That’s when the best story ideas come to us.

Have a great day, Lovelies and I’ll check in with you on Thursday, August 16th for the 5 YEAR SWIRL AND SPARK BLOG-IVERSARY!!

Until then, keep those story ideas swirling, 

❤ Jackie

Posted in Uncategorized

The Unpredictability of Publishing

Hi Lovelies!

Have you ever had a week (or four!) that’s so topsy-turvy and busy that all you crave is a chance to catch your breath, a chance to answer emails or even write a blog post?

Well, this week I certainly wished for a chance to catch my breath, but I should have been more aware of what I was wishing for!

Stick with me as I share some seemingly unrelated events…

This week marked moving day for my parents…a move out of the home they had lived in for 42 years—the home I grew up in. They sold their house months ago, but when it came right down to it, suddenly moving day was here. There was packing to do, boxes to move, and I had to say goodbye to my childhood home—just like that. The flashbacks of amazing memories filled my every waking thought but as busy and emotional as it was, it was wonderful to spend so much time with my parents, my siblings and their spouses, my nieces and nephews, my husband and my own kids…because we’ve all lived so much life in that house. But now that my parents are sort of settled into their beautiful smaller home, I’m reminded how important family is…no matter where it is you call home.

This week also marked an end to my son’s high school sports career. But because he’s my youngest, it marked the end of all high school sports for my husband and I—and that just feels strange. Bittersweet to be sure. It also marks just three weeks until my son’s graduation and I wish I could slow down these days—just a little bit. There’s Senior Ball still to come, and Senior Banquet, graduation and a grad party to plan…packed into just days. But just like with my parents’ move, the days are  moving full steam ahead whether I’m ready or not and so I’m just trying to savor every moment, while I hold on just a little tighter.

A little over a week ago, I debuted the book trailer to Flip the Silver Switch. But as excited as I was to share that, I secretly wished that I had more time before release day. Spin the Golden Light Bulb is still a newborn book and dealing with two books at once had begun to feel overwhelming. I was desperately afraid that I wouldn’t be able to promote FTSS properly or celebrate its release into the world the right way.  I secretly wished that the release date was back to its original one in August.

Over the weekend, I struggled to complete even a quarter of my to-do list… mostly yard work, laundry, and house work. I mean there are only so many hours in the day! Instead though, on this holiday weekend,  I spent time with my family and it felt good to rejuvenate—even though I knew I would pay for it this week. But there’s nothing more important than spending time with the people that mean the most to you so I enjoyed every second…except one particular moment last night.

Remember I said that I wished for time to just breath–answer an email or two? Well, last night after a fun Memorial Day picnic at my brother’s home, I said good bye to everyone and proceeded to slip down his deck stairs. I fell down only two steps but as one of my feet slipped out from under me, my back crashed against the wooded step. I’m not sure if I knocked the wind out of myself or what, but the pain was excruciating, I was dizzy instantly, and felt ringing in my ears. Yeah, that was fun.

So I spent the night with ice and ibuprofen and today on the couch. I guess I got what I wished for…a chance to answer emails and write my blog post!

But, another thing happened that I secretly wish for too.

Flip the Silver Switch has a new release date! It’s August 21st…its original release date! I got the email about it today. How crazy is that?

Flip the Silver Switch- ARC spine

I know some authors would be upset, but not me! This means Flip the Silver Switch will be promoted as a Fall/ Back to School book and I’ll have more time to promote it and give it a proper launch into the world—after I’ve had time to properly plan a graduation party and send my son off to college!

So there you have it. Sometimes the unpredictability of publishing can work to your advantage.

I guess I better update the release day countdown counter on my site, and then ice my back again. There’s no way I’m spending another full day like this! But at least my emails are now caught up and if it hurts still tomorrow, I could get some writing done. Imagine that!

Have a great week, my friends!  Don’t forget to take some time for yourselves. It really does help!

Jackie ❤

 

Posted in Uncategorized

The Publishing Train

We’ve all experienced how slow the publishing industry moves sometimes. It seems like it chugs along. It takes forever to hear back from literary agents. It takes forever to hear back from publishers. It takes forever to get your contract, your edits, and your book cover. And it really feels like forever until you hold your book in your hands for the first time and hear that someone out there is reading it! And even if it isn’t actually taking that long for all of this to happen, it sure does feel like it, doesn’t it?

Publishing feels like a slow moving train, that’s for sure!

But suddenly, when all the stars align, or fate steps in or whatever, the train picks up speed, you hang on for dear life, and hope you don’t fly out one of the car doors!

Maybe you sign with a literary agent and suddenly your mind is swirling at the possibilities! You work frantically with your new agent to polish up your manuscript and make it submission ready.

Or you get word of an offer and then your mind really swirls. You sign the contract  and though the train may slow for a bit, it inevitably picks up speed again as you head into the editing cave where you experience deadlines and decisions.

And then there’s that point where ARCs are out and bloggers and reviewers and booksellers and librarians are reading and it feels like the train has stopped. There’s not much you can do about the fact that people are reading except, keep writing, keep working, and keep making connections.

There are so many speed ups and slow downs to publishing that it would take forever to list them all here. But I really believe that the best way to handle it all is to be flexible and know that the train is moving—even if it doesn’t feel like it. It will speed up for you when you least expect it, at a time that it’s meant to.

Some might say my train didn’t start moving until I signed with a literary agent. But now that I look back, I know that isn’t true. My train started moving when I opened up a clean notebook and jotted down ideas for my first book, Megan in Middle School over ten years ago and it kept moving with every step forward I took. Like when I wrote actual words in that notebook and somehow turned them into story. Like when I enrolled in my first local SCBWI writers conference and it’s local chapter RACWI. Like when I joined my first critique group, and then my second. When I started this blog. When I wrote a second manuscript and made it better than the first. When I queried and queried some more. When I wrote my third manuscript and made it better than my second. When I met my future critique partners.  When I listed to feedback and knew my writing was getting better but it wasn’t quite there yet. Like when I spent hours upon hours revising anywhere and everywhere as much as I could.

My train sure felt slow then. It felt like getting a book published would never happen for me, yet I still believed that if I worked hard enough I would figure out how to write a better story. And so now looking back I know that during all of those times when my train felt stalled, it wasn’t stalled at all. All the necessary things were happening. It was moving—even if the speed was not as fast as I would have liked.

If this feels like you, let me be the one to tell you. Keep going. Do whatever it takes to move forward. And if it feels like you’re stalled on your own journey to publication, you probably aren’t. You may need to take a step off the train for a week or so to get some fresh air, but you definitely need to get back on. That’s  the only way your train will ever pick up speed.

Some days now I feel like my train is at maximum speed. There are so many things I need to be doing to help Spin the Golden Light Bulb have a successful go at it. There are blog tours to participate in and  bookstores and libraries to visit—just to help spread the word about its very existence! Social media is a big deal now, of course, and that in itself is a crazy train too. I’ll be spreading the word about author visits soon and seriously the list goes on and on. But I’m not saying these things to discourage you. It’s a wild and crazy ride for sure… but when I step of the train just for a few minutes to read messages from people who have read my book, I can’t help but get choked up a little—and to smile bigger than I should probably because this is what I’ve dreamed of for so long.

Spin the Golden Light Bulb- Dream Big
How cute is this notebook that practically matches my book’s main quote?

And just when I think I’m managing all that being published entails, I’m riding this speeding train just fine, I remember that Spin the Golden Light Bulb is not the only book I have making its way into the world this year! My publishing train is accelerating at warped speed now and whether I’m ready or not (because really, who ever is?!) big stuff is happening and it’s not stopping any time soon! It’s hard not to feel grateful, even when I feel overwhelmed.

So on that note, I hope you’ll stop back again this week. I have fun stuff to share with all of you!!

Thanks for stopping in today. You guys are the best. I’d love to hear where you are when it comes to your own publishing train. Comment below. It always helps to know other writers are riding along with you too! And don’t forget to click on the link to follow my blog. That way you’ll be notified when I post again. 🙂

Cheers!

Jackie ❤