Posted in The Crimson Five series

Letting Your Book Go…Until Release Day

A few months ago, a dear author friend, Vivian Vande Velde said something that made me laugh. We were talking about our upcoming book releases and she asked me why publishers refer to publication dates as release dates. She said something to the effect of, “It’s like our books our being held hostage or in jail.”

If you aren’t familiar with Vivian’s books (or her sense of humor) you should be! She’s the sweetest person and the author of 39 books! I can only imagine having that many stories in me or such amazing longevity as an author. She’s written mostly middle grade and YA, though she’s written a picture book too. So needless to say, she has been in the publishing business a very long time, and apparently, the term release day is sort of new. But it got me thinking. It does feel like our books are held hostage for a bit. We’ve written them, revised them, and edited them. We’ve done our job. But then we send them off to our publishers so they can do their jobs. We have to let go.  

So maybe held hostage isn’t quite right. It feels to me like they’re sent off to college. Like my kids. I know they’re there. I try to keep my distance and let them live their lives. I try to let go. But soon my book will be released. My kids will come back home. Both are cause for celebration! So much happens to books while they’re out of our hands—all necessary things. It’s incredibly hard to send a manuscript off for a final time, but that’s just it. When it’s time, it’s time. But the good news is, the next time you see your manuscript, it will be a book. Of course, it’ll be a galley or an ARC first, but once it’s released into the world, it will be the best version of itself. It will be published. Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!

I’m almost in that stage right now. I’ll have one more pass at Pop the Bronze Balloon before I have to let go of it completely. But the incredible news is, I now have a release date!

February 18. 2020

It may be the start of glorious Fall right now and the sparkly crisp season of winter will be here before we know it. But just as the dreariness of slush sets in, I’ll have this to look forward to. Pop the Bronze Balloon will be released into the world…finally soaring into the hands of readers! Ahhh, I’m so excited! I cannot wait for that day!

That’s really all I had to say today. My long-winded round about way of telling you that in just over four months, the third book in the Crimson Five series will be available. And readers will finally learn what happens to Kia, Ander, Mare, Jax & Jillian when they embark on a globe trotting adventure. I hope you’re just as excited as I am! Okay, probably not, but thanks for being happy for me! You guys are really the best!

Have a great day, lovelies! See you next week:)

Posted in The Crimson Five series

Writing the Acknowledgments Page of Your 1st Published Book

Have you ever thought about who you’ll dedicate your book to once it gets published? Or dreamed of writing the acknowledgments page? I bet you have. Writers imagine all sorts of things while writing their manuscripts and especially while out on submission. I most definitely did! Only, I never imagined the process of writing them would be so hard! Yesterday, I began the process of writing mine for Pop the Bronze Balloon and a couple of thoughts overwhelmed me: First, I cannot believe I’m writing this page for my third book, and second, this is just as difficult as it was the first time around! 

So because your book will get published one day, and I want you to be ready for it, I thought I’d tell you what it’s really like when you get that email from your editor that says: “Hey, just thought I’d check in. I meant to ask you… do you want a dedication page and an acknowledgment page in your book? If you do, I need them both ASAP!”

Um, yes! And oh, no! 

That’s when you drop everything and take a deep breath because you need to get your thoughts on paper like yesterday!

Okay. It’s fine. No big deal. Just one of the most important pages you’ll ever write. But you’ve got this. You’ve written a whole book. How hard can it to be to write a few paragraphs thanking a few people? 

Well, it is a little daunting. So, before you get started, here’s the deal:

10 things that will most certainly happen as you write your acknowledgments: 

  1. You’ve probably read hundreds of books through the years including every author’s acknowledgment page, but once you sit down to a blank screen to write your own, you have the terrible realization that you don’t actually know how to write an acknowledgment page. So, you grab the closest books to you and flip through the pages hoping to find a formula. That’s when you quickly realize…they’re isn’t one. 
  2. You’ll sob uncontrollably while writing them. The process of thanking the people who played a role in getting your 1st book published will feel like a therapy session turned trip down memory lane. And you’ll have an impossible time seeing the keyboard as you write. 
  3. A few paragraphs? Not likely. When you finally do get your thoughts down onto the page, it will probably read like an academy award acceptance speech. But longer. How can it not? So many people have played a role and you’ll feel like it’s your only chance to thank everyone because you may never get another book published again. And to be honest, there are a lot of people to thank. From your family and critique partners to your agent, editors, and publishing team there’s so many! Not to mention your friends, pets, and favorite coffee. The list is never ending!
  4. You’ll panic that you forgot someone. And panic some more. But trust me. You didn’t forget anyone because remember, your page is now is longer than your first chapter.
  5. You’ll try to write it in a humorous, witty, or other authorly way and it sounds terrible. But soon you’ll discover that if you write from the heart, the theme or tone you use doesn’t really matter. 
  6. You’ll revise, edit, and proofread it more times than some of your chapters. Because it’s your first book… and you are determined to get it just right. 
  7. You’ll be overwhelmed with gratitude because even though you spent years and worked incredibly hard on this book, it would have never been possible without all of these people working just as hard on your behalf.
  8. If you haven’t already, you’ll decide which person or people the book will be dedicated to. And it will feel like the most important decision of your life. It did for me anyway.
  9. You’ll stare at the page and wonder what life this is that you’re living, that this is really real. Your book will soon be published and you’re not dreaming any more. 
  10. And then you’ll reread the page one last time, sob some more, attach it to the email, and hit send…probably with a very happy heart. ❤

1st two paragraphs of two pages of acknowledgments for Spin the Golden Light Bulb

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. I’m so grateful you did! I’m off to polish up my dedication page for Pop the Bronze Balloon today. But first, I’m cheering for all of you reading this who are hoping, dreaming, and wishing that someday you’ll be doing the same for your own book. Never stop believing it will happen. Your time is closer than you think and I can’t wait to read your acknowledgment page one day soon!

If you guys are interested in reading Spin the Golden Light Bulb, Flip the Silver Switch, or Pop the Bronze Balloon just add them to your Goodreads account or requests them at your local library. Both are free! The purchase links can be found on my book pages here as well so if you’re looking to buy them as a gift, or to read yourself, you can always do that too.

And as a nudge, if any of you have read any of the books (and like them!), it would help me out if you left a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads. Teachers, parents, librarians…any readers really, use those reviews to determine whether they should purchase . So if you have a second, I would appreciate it! As always…Thank you so much!

Posted in The Crimson Five series

Dialogue: Did the Right Person Say It?

Dreaming is good. Doing is better. If you want to reach your dream of getting your book published, then it’s time to get back to work on your manuscript. Last week I talked about characters—making your reader care about them by making them relatable, and making their goals crystal clear with high stakes. But those are just a few things your can do to strengthen your manuscript. Another is checking your dialogue—especially when you have many characters who show up scene after scene.

When dealing with multiple characters, it’s easy to assign dialogue to the wrong one. Each person needs to be involved in the conversation in some way and that way can be spoken or with a gesture. During the drafting stage, you just want to get the conversation on the page. Mare says this. Jax replies that. Ander looks at Mare, but says nothing. But once you’re in the revision stage it’s important to be sure the right dialogue is assigned to your characters. You may wonder why it even matters. Just getting the point across is enough, right? Well, no.

In Spin the Golden Light Bulb, the story revolves around a team of five kids. When they all speak in the same scene, it can be tricky to get the point across and make it sound natural. But it’s even harder than that because there are certain things that Jax would never say. Other things that Mare would definitely say. And Ander, well, Ander is Ander. He would never just look away without saying anything. How do I know? Because I know my characters like they are my own kids. Ander loves to be a part of the conversation. It would be very unlikely that he would be tongue-tied!

One of the adorable illustrations by Gabrielle Esposito in
Spin the Golden Light Bulb!

During revisions, I did a separate read through for each of my five main characters. I also did a sixth read through for the secondary characters. During each one, I would highlight their dialogue only and ask myself, “Would Mare say that? Is that the best response she could give? Does her response shed a light on who she is? Does what she’s saying move the conversation forward? Does it sound like something a real person would say? But most of all, I’m deciding if Mare is the person who should say that line, rather than maybe Kia or Jillian.

The process may sound tedious, and it is. But it’s so important especially with multiple characters in a conversation. You want your reader to get to know each one and this will help it to happen. You want your reader to be able to tell who is speaking, just by the sentence that’s spoken. Ander calls Kia by a nickname. Always. So when a sentence contains the nickname, it’s easy to know he’s speaking. The other kids never call her that. So when I’m revising I make sure that’s what he refers to her as. Ander loves to be the center of attention. He makes bold statements. Jillian is dramatic. Very. Mare is blunt. Dry. Kia is intense. She’s a worrier. Jax is quiet. Introverted. These descriptions don’t sum up all the reader knows about the five kids, but they are examples. And these types of things help me decide who would say what, when they’re interacting.

So that’s my best tip for dialogue. Make sure the right person is saying each line. Your story (and characters) will make more sense that way. I hope this helps as your revise your own manuscript. It’s definitely helped me!

On an author-life note, I’ve been paired up with a lovely teacher and class of fourth graders from Ohio for the Kids Need Mentors Program run by Kristin Crouch, Kristen Picone, and Jerrott Lerner. I’m so excited to work with them this year! I had an amazing experience last year with a class of fifth graders. It’ll be fun to see what comes of this new auther/ educator collaboration! I’ve also hit the 5,000 word mark on my new middle grade WIP. Not bad for just a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll get a few thousand more words in this week and get to a point where it feels more like a story and not just a premise. Wish me luck!

I hope you’re making progress on your writing projects too. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Even a few words a day makes a big difference. I’ll be in my corner of the internet cheering for you…as I pour another cup of very creamy coffee and get back to work myself!

Thanks for checking in today. I’ll see you again next week!

Posted in Publishing, Writing Craft

Get to Work! Make me Care about your MC

Hey there!

Sorry for the aggressive title today but I think many of you can use that reminder. I actually need it myself sometimes too! On the blog last week, I said that publishing is just crazy sometimes. It’s slow. It’s fickle. It’s unpredictable. But really, what business isn’t? And we all need to remember that publishing is a business. It’s not a book group or a hobby convention. Publishers are trying to produce the best books for their intended audience. Literary agents are trying to choose books that publishers will buy. As a writer, neither of these things are in your control. Likewise, once you do have a book deal, you have no control over how many people read your book or what they think of it. And all of that can be so frustrating.

Remember that saying, you can’t please everyone? The same is true with books. Not every reader likes the same book. Not every agent will be wowed by the same book. Not every editor or publisher will see the same potential in a book.

So the truth is, the best way to ensure that a literary agent chooses your book, a publisher chooses your book, a parent, teacher, bookseller, librarian, or reader chooses your book is to write a good book.

And even still, there are no for sures in publishing.

I love the Caravel series by Stephanie Garber more than I like the Harry Potter books. Does that mean anything? Not really, just that books are subjective. I’m not telling you anything you haven’t heard before. But what I will say is that if you’re trying to get your manuscript published and eventully into the hands of readers, then get back to work. I know, I know. You’ve been working on it for two years–maybe three. Well, maybe you need to work on it more. Have you been querying it for six months with no interest from agents? Not even one? Then look at it again. Something probably isn’t working and it’s not the agent. It needs more polishing. It needs something.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing tips on revision. We all know we need to revise, but sometimes we forget where to start. Both new and seasoned writers need to look for the same things, and whether you’ve written half a manuscript or twenty, it’s easy to overlook the basics when a newly finished draft is staring back at you. One of the most basic tips I can offer is this:

Make me care about your main character.

What does your MC want the most? What will happen if they don’t succeed? Are the stakes clear? Are they dire enough? Is your MC likeable? Will the reader route for them? A reader will follow a character through almost any journey if they care about them. Is your MC trying to save the world or find a hidden carrot? Who cares as long as we feel for your character and want them to succeed. Bottom line: make the reader care!

There are so many points to look for when revising your manuscript, but creating a MC that your readers will want to read about is one of the most important. So this week, get back to work on your MC. Read your first several chapters with fresh eyes. Would someone else feel for them? Would they turn the page to find out why achieving their goal is important to them? If the answer is no, maybe you need to up the stakes. Maybe you haven’t dug deep enough and shown how it will impact their life. Or maybe your character just isn’t likable. If they come off as brash or unrelatable, your reader won’t cheer for them in their quest. But if they are, their quest will become your reader’s quest. They’ll read on to discover what happens to them.

In Spin the Golden Light Bulb, eleven-year old Kia Krumpet wants to win a Golden Light Bulb. It’s pretty simple. But unless the reader understands why (in her mind) her whole life will fall apart unless she wins one, my readers won’t keep reading. I mean, a Golden Light Bulb is a pretty shiny trophy and all that, but it’s what the trophy represents, what winning represents, that make readers want to (hopefully!) stay up past their bedtime to read Kia’s story.

That manuscript took me four years to write—four years to get right. It may not take you that long, but remember, there are no shortcuts to writing a good book. You have to put the work in. You have to do more than just dream of seeing your book on a bookstore bookshelf. And believe me, I spend quite of bit of time doing that too!

So make your readers care about your main character this week. It will pay off so much down the road, in making your publication dream come true! I did that very thing earlier this week. I received copyedits for Pop the Bronze Balloon from my editor. But as I read through the manuscript, I used the opportunity to look at Kia through fresh eyes. I asked myself, Is her goal clear? Are her stakes clear? My readers have followed her through two books already and now for this final installment, I had to be sure that they still care about her and her quest. Will she finally get what she wants? Hopefully my readers care enough about her to find out!

I should have news on the updated release date for Pop the Bronze Balloon soon, (yay!!!) so check back for that! I’ll be posting it on social media as soon as I know. BTW, if you aren’t following me on Twitter or Instagram, please do! I’d love to connect with you. And if this post was helpful, please leave a comment. Interacting with other writers makes this whole community feel closer so if you’re here, let me know!

Thanks for stopping by the blog. 🙂 Have a fantastic day, everyone. I’ll be back again next week!

Posted in The Crimson Five series

Refocus Your Writing

Hello there! I’ve missed you guys. I mean, I’ve really have! I hope this summer was all you hoped it would be—or at least some of what you hoped it would be. I hope you were able to read a little, write a little, or even travel a little. I hope you were able to enjoy the sunshine and spend time with your favorite people—or revel in some alone time too.

The last time I checked in with you, our family was in the process of moving. My husband and I sold our house of twenty six years (I know, right?!), packed it up, and moved with our two college kids about thirty minutes east to a brand new area—a brand new house. No small task when you’re dealing with so many years of memories and so many years of life. The move was some parts easy, some parts stressful, and a really long process. Some days I was an emotional mess, some days I was physically wrecked, some days I floated on cloud nine, some days I worked on auto pilot. My writing and blogging took a back seat, that’s for sure. But now that we’re in and mostly settled, I’m so glad we made the move. I love our new home and even though a few boxes are still sprinkled throughout every room and we have projects galore to tackle, I feel energized by this new space and refreshed. And definitely ready to get back to writing. How lucky am I that this is my new writing view?

I had a long conversation with my husband and son about goals recently. It was the night before my son moved back to college for his second cross country preseason. He was struggling with his running goals, trying to pin-point what he hoped to accomplish this season. He was worried that after running for so many years, he had lost his love for the sport—not a good feeling the night before his official training was to begin. My husband had some wise words for him…ones that got me thinking about my own goals for writing.

He asked him why he had joined the cross country team way back in seventh grade. Was it because he loved running? Or something else? He responded, “I joined because I wanted to be on a team with nice kids and I had a feeling I could be good at it… I wanted to run in college.”

We proceded to talk about goal setting and my son soon realized he had set a goal for himself way back in seventh grade. His whole high school life revolved around doing what it took to achieve his goal. And he did it! He was recruited to run for his first choice college and he did. He achieved his goal.  

But the funny thing about goals is that once you achieve them, what’s next?

I think sometimes there’s a bit of a letdown. It happened to my son and it happened to me.

I know exactly how it feels to flounder and lose focus after you achieve your goal. It feels awful.

As some of you know, I spent 8 years trying to get an agent. If you don’t know my story, you can read about it here. It was ten years before I got a book deal. You can read about that story here. My dream came true when my middle grade novel Spin the Golden Light Bulb debuted in January, 2018 and because my book deal was for two books, the second, Flip the Silver Switch released later that summer. It was a whirlwind for sure and I’m still trying to believe that I really do have two published books!

But for the last year, I’ve sort of worked on auto pilot when it comes to writing and all that comes along with being published. I signed a contract for a third book in the series, which I know is a very huge deal, and I’m so grateful. But writing that book was so much harder. I wrote it on proposal. I wrote it on a deadline. I wrote it while trying to help promote two books, do Skype classroom visits, in person classroom visits, a bunch of book signings, and mentor a fifth grade class. It may sound like a dream come true for some writers and believe me, in some ways it most definitely was! I still pinch myself that this is actually real!

But at the same time, it’s been a little overwhelming. My writing hobby quickly turned into a job and a crazy juggling act. And I’m a terrible juggler! I found myself saying yes to more than I can handle and no to things I love. I found myself reacting to my own life instead of choosing my own path. That’s why this chat about goals really resonated with me.

Where was my focus now that my publishing dream had finally come true? What was my goal anyway? To sign with a literary agent? Yes. To get my book published? Yes. But what then? Was my goal to do school visits? Book as many book signings as possible? What were the things about being published that I was hoping to achieve that I couldn’t as an unpublished author?

It took some serious thought, but I’ve realized a few things. One is that I just really love to write stories. I also love to blog here and interact with other writers. And I love talking to kids and writers about chasing their dreams—even when those dreams seem so far out of reach. My goal is to write things that resonate with readers and inspire them to chase their dreams—through my middle grade books and through my writing focused blog posts.

The book signings and in-person school visits are a bonus, but they take time to prepare for—time away from my family and from writing. Skype visits are more manageable and they still allow me time to interact with kids. That leaves me more time to blog to my heart’s content which will hopefully inspire more of you! It also leaves me more time to write middle grade books.

So this fall, I’m getting back to the basics. I’m re-focusing my writing. I’ll be writing more and blogging more.  Just saying this makes me feel more energized than I have in a very long time! So stay tuned because the swirl and spark blog  is about to sparkle once again! I’ll also be posting more on Instagram (because I love it!) so follow me there if you aren’t already. I love the positive, creative vibe there—so many great accounts to follow! You can find me by searching Jackie Yeager.

I hope reading this post helps you to realize that if you’re in a writing funk or just feel like you’re floundering a little in your every day life, maybe it means you need to find the joy in what you’re doing again. Or maybe you need to re-focus your goals. Fall is the perfect time to do both. We weren’t put on this earth just to flounder. We were put here to thrive. So use this first week in September to re-write your goals. Make a plan to chase your dreams. They’re yours for the taking!

I know you can do it. If I can write a whole book you can. If I can sign with a literary agent, you can. If I can get a book published by a fantastic publisher, illustated by a spectacular artist, you can. If kids all over the country can read my books, someday they can be reading yours too. I believe that and I hope you do too!

If you’ve been clicking around my website, you may have noticed that the release date for POP THE BRONZE BALLOON has been pushed back to 2020. Publishing is a crazy business sometimes and this is one of those times! But it’s all good. This book will be worth the wait , I promise! I’ll keep you posted on the actual release date when I have it. In the meantime, if you haven’t had a chance to read Spin the Golden Light Bulb or Flip the Silver Switch and you’d like to, they are now both out in paperback! I’m still pinching myself about that one too! Click on the links below for the details.  

Spin the Golden Light Bulb

Flip the Silver Switch

Thanks for stopping by the blog. Now I’m off to work on copy edits for Pop the Bronze Balloon and then my WIP, a new middle grade project that’s un-related to the Crimson Five books. I’m over the top excited for this one! Wish me luck and have a fantastic week, everyone… I’m wishing you luck on your projects today too!

Posted in The Crimson Five series

Interview with my Agent, Rebecca Angus, the Debut Novelist!

After gushing about my literary agent, Rebecca Angus for so long, I finally get to gush about her as a writer too! Tomorrow is a HUGE day for her…she becomes a published author! I’m so excited to help her celebrate by welcoming her to the blog today and telling you about her book. But first, here’s a sneak peek…

Inspired by Texas history, WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN is Rebecca’s debut novel—a retelling of the Alamo with a modern twist. Published by Red Adept Publishing on July 9, 2019, it features Texas A & M University as well. I can hardly wait to read it myself!

Congratulations, Rebecca! Your hard work, perseverance, and patience have paid off. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with all of us today. Cheers to you tomorrow on release day. I have a strong feeling that your story will be read far and wide!

Before I share the gorgeous book cover, Rebecca’s Bio, the book blurb, and the purchase link, I thought it would be fun to pick her brain a little with 9 quick questions…in honor of her book’s July 9th birthday!

1. You’re a writer and a literary agent. When in the world do you find time to write? Is it every day for a few minutes or do you write in spurts when you have a pocket of time?

I actually find the author part more daunting. I have a really good routine when it comes to working as an agent. However, when it comes to prioritizing my own books and writing, I definitely feel the pressure. I have to schedule writing time, and that can be difficult. Most days I find time after Mini Agent has gone to bed to put in an hour or two of writing, but I do try and write wherever I can hide from the 3-year old. Sometimes it’s the bedroom. Other times it’s the bathroom. Possibly under the bed or in the closet if that is the only space available. I’m kidding… partially. Really it just comes down to when I have time to write.

2. I’m seriously in awe of all you accomplish in a day! Did you start writing before you were an agent or after?

I started writing before I was an agent, although, writing definitely played a big role in helping me become an agent. My writing journey is pretty typical. I was a book obsessed teenager with a writing dream of my own, but it wasn’t until right after college that I started writing seriously. I am a military spouse and I met my husband at Texas A&M University. We got married our senior year of college and he deployed to Afghanistan the year after. While he was deployed, I had been living in Washington away from my friends and family and I turned to writing as a way to combat the stress and loneliness that I felt during that first deployment. I actually wrote WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN in 28 days during that time, and dove straight into revisions shortly after. A few months later I found my literary agent, Jessica. She has been an amazing champion for this book!

3. 28 Days? That’s amazing! Writing can be such a blessing in the toughest of times. It sounds like it certainly was for you. Where did the story idea for WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN first come from?

Well, I knew this question would come eventually, but my husband inspired this story… yes—that is very awkward for me to admit. I drew so much inspiration from our time at Texas A&M, and my experiences as a military wife. Our love story began at A&M, so the love story central to WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN also parallels to those same themes. The main character, Tapley, was actually inspired by Tapley Holland who was the youngest defender of the Alamo, and played a significant role in the history of the Alamo itself. We loved the name Tapley so much that we named our son after him as well. There is so much history in this story, but there is also so much of my own life in it as well that it’s very personal. It took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that people are going to read these words that I wrote and experience my own feelings in their own way. It’s a very vulnerable but exciting feeling as an Author.

4. Is it awkward for me to say that I can’t wait to read about your love story? The time period, the setting, and your inspiration for the story have me dying to read this immediately! Tapley is such a great name too. How cool it is that your son now shares the name too. I seriously love that! So, how long did it take you to write the manuscript (including revisions) … and to get it published?

WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN was a solid 28 days of writing from the heart. Every emotion, insecurity, and frustration I felt being a military wife was put into that story, and I didn’t outline any of it. While I knocked the book out very fast, I will never pants an entire story again. I definitely prefer going into a story more organized. However, sometimes the characters in the story have a mind of their own and your plan of action can completely change. Don’t be afraid of change in the story—work with your character. After all, it’s their story. I found my agent a few months later, but it took us a solid year of revising and changes before it was submissions ready. I received the publication offer in January of 2018.

5. I’m guessing that’s a day you’ll never forget… and that’s such great writing advice for any writer drafting a novel. Who’s your favorite character in the story?

Definitely Tapley. You can’t help but fall in love with him. He’s loyal to a fault, but he’s brave and honest and he’s not afraid to fight for what he wants.

6. Tapley sounds like an amazing MC, with such noble qualities. In your spare time, when you’re not writing or working as a literary agent, what do you like to do?

My happy place is on the back of a horse. I have been riding horses since I was five, and I have the most amazing tall, dark, and handsome one my life named Marcas (I’m talking about my horse, of course). He’s my shoulder when I need to cry, my best friend. When I’m not at the barn you can most likely find me chasing my son around or building garages for his hot wheels out of Legos.

7. Marcus sounds almost as amazing as your MC…and I can picture the Lego’s scattered around your house while you write! Do you have any writing rituals like a favorite drink, spot to write, or music to listen to?

Wine. All of the wine! Writing is my calm down ritual for the day and I always partner it with a glass of wine in my favorite Doctor Who mug. As for my favorite writing spot…I think the answer is wherever it’s quiet. I do create a playlist for each of my WIPs that I listen to while I’m writing.

8. My mug is usually filled with coffee and flavored creamer, but maybe I should try wine. That does sound like a better writing sidekick! What will you do to celebrate on release day?

Can I use wine as an answer again? We have a special Texas bottle of wine that we’ve been saving for my release day. My husband is actually out in the field this week doing Army things, so we are going to celebrate on Saturday when he gets home.

9. That sounds lovely and just know that you have a whole team of clients, including me, and so many others who will be toasting you tomorrow! You, without a doubt, deserve the celebration! So lastly, for all the writers who are wishing for the news that their manuscript will one day be turned into a book, what piece of advice would you give them?

Everyone has their own writing journey. It can happen at different stages of your life, at different paces, and at different levels. Whatever your writing journey is, focus on your individual successes and try not to get caught longing for the successes of others. I know I give that speech to my authors on a weekly basis, but I frequently have to remind myself of the same thing. This is my writing journey and it will be what I make it, not what others perceive it as.

Thanks for the reminder, Rebecca. That’s such an important message for all of us to remember. Especially in this world of social media where so many other writers are sharing their journeys. It’s a blessing and a curse to know what else is happening around us!

On that note, here’s a little bit more info on Rebecca, including social media links, so you can learn even more about her as an author and as an agent…and her debut novel. It sounds amazing and I seriously cannot wait to crack my copy open!

Bio:

Rebecca Angus is a Senior Literary Agent with Golden Wheat Literary, and romance author.​ Rebecca has over five years of experience in the Publishing industry, and she’s excited to work with new authors and illustrators. She started as an editorial and submissions intern at Entangled in 2014, and from there she moved into an intern position at Golden Wheat Literary. After interning on both the publishing side, and the agent side, she set her sights on becoming a Literary Agent and found her home at Golden Wheat Literary.

​When she’s away from books, she is an Army wife, science teacher, toddler chasing Mom, and equestrian. The military moves her family way too much. She lives in El Paso, Texas with her family. 

​​Rebecca is a supporter of diversity and inclusion in publishing, and she is a member of SCBWI NM. 

Here’s she is doing what she loves…

Book Blurb of WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN:

When Aubrey Harrison wrecks her truck on the side of a dark Texas highway, she wakes up in the year 1836, in another woman’s life—someone who looks just like her. Struggling to understand her new reality, Aubrey connects with Tapley, a handsome cattleman with a tragic past.

As Mexican soldiers begin to fill the small settlement, Aubrey recognizes the first sign of a deadly battle yet to come. A bargain to save her new family’s cattle business leads to murder, and Aubrey is forced to take shelter within the walls of the Alamo, even though she knows that’s the worst place she could be.

The fate of Texas was sealed before the battle ever began, but with it, a new love may now be lost somewhere between the past and the present. An attempt to change fate comes with the high price of Aubrey’s future, but she’s determined to give history a fight it will never forget.

And here’s her gorgeous book cover…

To follow Rebecca and purchase WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN:

Twitter: @R_Elisewrites

Website: Rebeccaangusbooks.com

To Purchase:

Thanks, everyone for stopping by the blog today. I hope you have a spectacular day, doing something you love! Don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram or Twitter if you haven’t already. That’s where I spend most of my social media time lately. The links are on the side bar. And until we chat again, as always…

Think More. Work Hard. Dream Big!

Jackie ❤

Posted in The Crimson Five series

The Crimson Five Book News

Good morning, you guys!

I thought it was high time I checked in with you! I hope you’re all doing well. I’ve been off the charts out of touch for a bit and I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to. I may ramble a bit, but I guess you’re all used to that—especially when we have so much to catch up on!

The last time I checked in with you here, it was January. The snow was falling and I was chin deep in slush while drafting Pop the Bronze Balloon,  the third book in THE CRIMSON FIVE series. At the same time, I had just brought my son back to college for his spring semester. I was also getting ready to move my daughter to Orlando for a semester long internship at Walt Disney World. Besides all that, my husband and I were in the midst of house projects. So many house projects. After 26 years in our current home, we had the brilliant idea to embark on a new adventure…put our house on the market and move into something new in the spring.

So many people have asked us if we were bored while the kids were away. Well, if you know me at all, you can imagine that I missed them terribly! But we were definitely not bored. The house projects were endless. My draft took longer than expected. Revisions after that took forever. I’m only now at a place where I can truly say that I love this book! I’m gearing up for another small revision round before it goes to the editing team but we are getting there. The release date has been pushed back to November, but it’s totally fine with me. In the scope if things, a few more months won’t matter and the finished book will be better!

As far as the house projects go, they paid off! We put it on the market a few weeks ago and I can hardly believe it, but it sold in two days. We have a hot real estate market happening around here right now and it certainly worked in our favor. It’s been such a bittersweet process making the decision to leave the home we love though. It’s the only home my husband and I have ever lived in together and the only home our kids have ever known. We’ve made amazing friends here and I wouldn’t have wanted to raise our family anyplace else. But as amazing as it has been to call this house, this neighborhood, and this town our home… we’re all ready for a change. Even though the kids will only live with us for a few more years, we are seriously bursting at the seams and have been for so long! We’re all ready to live someplace new and to make more memories together. Besides, our family will only get bigger and it’ll be nice to have room for everyone—however often they stop by!

The neighborhood we’re moving to is only thirty minutes away from where we are now and our new house is perfect for us. It needs some updating and TLC but I’m on it. Besides writing, interior design is my secret passion. I’m so grateful that I’ll have a blank slate to work with soon and a new place for all of us to call home!

That’s pretty much why I stepped away from this blog for awhile. Between house and book projects, I was simply overwhelmed! But now that my revisions are turned in and we have a closing date, I can breath while I pack for a few weeks. I can also share some fun news with you…

Both Spin the Golden Light Bulb and Flip the Silver Switch are releasing in paperack! That’s right. The Crimson Five book series will be available on August 20,2019 in a sparkly new format! I’m so excited. As much as I adore hardcover books, paperbacks are so much more accessible to readers and for many people easier to read! Plus, they’re both updated editions. More on that later but for now I will say that I’m thrilled with these editions and I cannot wait to hold them in my hands! My author copies should arrive soon and I will definitely share pictures. 

As we all know, our kids procrastinate when it comes to summer reading. So if you’re so inclined, both books are available for preorder from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and indiebound. All you have to do is order and they’ll magically appear in your mailbox, just in time for your kiddos to meet their summer reading quota—and discover a new series in the process! Besides, Pop the Bronze Balloon releases later this fall and they’ll definitly want to read the first two first.

Thanks for stopping by to hear my life’s story—I mean update! I hope your life update is a positive one too. But take it from me, if you’re overwhelmed, it does get better—eventually!

Have a sparkly day, sweet friends and until we chat again…

Think More. Work Hard. Dream Big!

Jackie ❤

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 Publishing, The Crimson Five series

Podcast Interview with My Messy Muse

Hey sweet friends,

Happy New Year! I hope 2019 has gotten off to a good start for you. I absolutely love the first week in January. Maybe it’s the daydreamer and planner in me, but I always have such high hopes for the year and putting some of my plans into action is just plain fun!

First of all, I’ve joined the 30 day Yoga With Adriene program called DEDICATE and I’m loving it so far. I’ve done several of her other yoga videos in the past, but re-committing to the whole yoga thing this way is just what I need (and want!) right now, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Besides Adriene’s videos are so encouraging and motivational. Check them out if you’re into that sort of thing.

I began drafting my WIP again this week also after taking a few weeks off over the holidays. The story is coming together and I love it so much! It’s nowhere near great yet, but I can see glimmers of greatness here and there, so there’s that. I plan to keep writing every day for the next several weeks. Butt in chair. Laptop on lap. That’s me for the foreseeable future.

In my effort to check in with you more regularly this year, I thought I’d kick off 2019 by sharing my very first pocast interview. It seems everyone (but me!) has climbed aboard the podcast train—so when the lovely Michele McAvoy, children’s author and the host of My Messy Muse pocast series asked me to chat with her, I happily agreed. I mean, I love to talk with other authors so I thought, how hard can it be?

I have to admit though, as the days approached leading up to our phone call, I did feel a little panicked. I haven’t done many “live” interviews and phone interviews are especially hard. There are no visual cues to tell you when the other person is done speaking, if you’re being too long-winded, or if they’re bored out of their minds listening to you! But Michele made it easy. She’s super friendly, and very easy to talk to. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time to talk about her books, her writing tips, and life in general. I actually think we could’ve talked all day!

So if you’re interested in listening, here’s the link:  http://www.michelemcavoy.com/podcast/ Hopefully something you hear will inspire you to keep working on your own writing goals. And if you have a chance, check out Michele’s other interviews… and her website too. Her books are as adorable as she is!

Enjoy the chat, my sweet friends and best of luck this month with your endeavors—writing and every other kind too. I know you have what it takes to get them done. Dedication, perserverence, and a “never give up” attitude can go a long way. I’ll focus if you will. Hopefully together we’ll get where we want to go. Thanks for checking in with me!

Until next time~

Think More. Work Hard. Dream Big!

❤ Jackie

Posted in Publishing

2018: A Year of (Mostly!) Sparkles and Sunshine

Hey everyone,

I hope you’re doing well! I thought I’d check in with you one more time before we officially say farewell to 2018. What a wild year it has been, don’t you think?

I hope yours was mostly on the happy side. I say mostly because I think it’s unrealistic to think that a person can have a year that’s 100% wonderful. Even the best year ever needs some bland or stormy days to make us appreciate the sparkles and sunshine.

And if your year wasn’t mostly wonderful, then okay…good riddance! Because that’s what’s so fabulous about life. We constantly get do-overs. We’re constantly given opportunities to make our lives what we want them to be! Every day. Every month. Every Year.

Personally, my year was more than mostly fabulous. My family is happy and healthy, my two book babies published in 2018, and I met some incredible people (of all ages!) through my writing journey this year. I’m so grateful for 2018. I will forever think of it as the year my book dreams came true. I still pinch myself nearly every day when I realize that I can now call myself an author and that real human people are reading books that I’ve written. It’s all so surreal and without a doubt, surreal has become my most over-used word of 2018!

With that said, it doesn’t mean I didn’t have struggles in 2018. I struggled with author impostor syndrome constantly. I mean, why would anyone want to come to my book launch party or read my books? Surely the ones who do are really just being nice! Thoughts like this took over my brain more often than I can count.  But, I think I’ve jumped that hurdle and landed on my feet. I realze now that people are busy. They arent going to read a book just to be nice. Unless we’re in school, we read things we want to read.

I have many author friends who have published books. I truly want to read all of them, and not because I want to be nice. It’s because I want to read what they wrote! It’s that simple. So I’ve learned to accept that when someone says they liked my books, they might actually mean it! For those of you who chose my books to read this year, even if only out of curiosity, I thank you from the every corner of my heart.  xoxo

I also struggled this year with balance, like many of you. There are only so many hours in the day for family, friends, work, housework, life obligations, fun, and self care…and I constantly felt like I was disappointing someone. But I’ve learned to cut myself some slack and do the best I can. That’s all any of us can ask of ourselves anyway!

I’m still figuring out what it means to live my life as an author, with all of the obligations that come along with that role and about how it fits into my life as a person—as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, neice, and friend. What I do know, after experiencing this more than mostly fabulous year, is that none of any of it matters without the people you care about most. So if there’s one thing that I will continue to prioritize, it’s family and friends. But at the same time, if I don’t take care of myself, no one else will—no one else can. And that means proiritizing the happiness I find in writing. It’s not just my career, it’s my joy. I love writing stories for kids and I love talking about writing stories for kids. I look forward to doing more of both in the new year!

So as 2019 approaches, I’m hopeful for another mostly fabulous year. I do anticipate there’ll be more than a few bland or stormy days, but hopefully the sparkly and sunny days will be right around the corner too as we ring in the New Year!

That’s what I wish for you as well. I hope your 2019 is filled with mostly sparkly and sunny days. I hope each morning your cup is full of your favorite coffee or smoothie, and with it you start each day with positivity, confidence, and peace. I hope you’ll find the courage to make time for yourself—to chase your dreams. You have what it takes to make yours come true—I know you do.

Leave me a comment below with one word or phrase (or more if you like!) that sums up your dream for 2019. I’d love to cheer for you every step of the way! Mine is BRONZE and it sums up more than one dream I have for the coming year. What’s yours?

Until we chat again~

Think More. Work Hard. Dream Big!

❤ Jackie