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

Posted in Uncategorized

Before the Calendar Page Flips

Hey there, Guys!

It’s been awhile! Over the last few months I’ve felt so guilty for not posting on this blog. I mean it has been ages! Day after day, as I’ve struggled to keep up with life in general…which for me means trying to maintain a good balance between being a wife and mom, and being a debut author, I would think of my five year-old blog fondly, and wish I could stop by for a chat.

I’ve seriously chastised myself over and over for neglecting it, which is so ridiculous, I know. But I do miss blogging and I’ve seriously had so many things to post about. But to be honest, this year has been a whirlwind—both personally and professionally and I just had to place this blog on the back-burner, much to my dismay. That doesn’t mean I haven’t checked in on this site though. I actually check in often, like several times a week to update it—or at least make sure it doesn’t need urgent attention.

But finally today, I decided to take a break from the other things. I’m currently in the middle of holiday prep—like so many of you and also in the middle of drafting. I’m working on a middle grade novel and one day soon, as soon as it’s in a more complete form, I’ll share the details with you. But for now, I’m keeping my fingers on the keyboard and pressing on. I have thousands of words left to write. Thousands. I know that’s pretty vague, but I’ve learned that when I say exactly how many words I’ve written, I feel pretty crappy when the next time I talk about it, the number has not increased as much as I’d like. So for now, all I’ll say is that my goal word count is 60,000 and I have a ways to go!

As you guys know, I had two books publish this year…my first two! That’s basically why this year has been a little crazy. Spin the Golden Light Bulb released in January and Flip the Silver Switch released in August. I had so many questions leading into my debut year. There were so many unknowns for me. But I was in a pretty unique position in that I had a chance for a do-over with my second release. That doesn’t mean I didn’t mess up a lot of stuff the second time around though. It’s forever been a figure it out as I go kind of year.

So because of that, I’m working on a post that will give you the inside scoop on what the debut year of a published author is really like. I have lots of tips (and reality checks) for you. Hopefully you’ll find some of it to be helpful! Stay tuned. I’ll be posting it soon after the one year mark, which is January 9, 2019!

Aside from that, I have some big news to share…

Spin the Golden Light Bulb has just been named by the Children’s Book Council and the National Science Teachers of America to their 2019 list of BEST STEM BOOKS K-12!

NSTA Best STEM List Logo

Like, what?? Are you kidding?

I’m thrilled, ecstatic, honored, and still in a state of absolute disbelief!

STEM education is an initiative to get kids excited to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math. This list recommends books that inspire innovation as student’s improve their reading skills.

As many of you know, Spin the Golden Light Bulb was inspired by the Odyssey of the Mind program and my team of 11 year-olds who once upon a time competed at the World Finals. Their story inspired me more than I can say, and I had hoped to write a story that would inspired other kids too. To think that prestigious organizations like these believe that my book does that, is truly a dream come true. I’m beyond grateful that Spin the Golden Light Bulb is included on this list along side many other authors that I admire. It’s more than I ever expected or dreamed for my first published book!

Here are the links to the press releases and the complete list of books:

Press Release- NSTA

Press Release- CBC

2019 Best STEM Books List K-12

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy as a gift for yourself, or a young reader on your list, I’ll make it easy for you. Here are some handy links right here:

Amazon: Spin the Golden Light Bulb

Amazon: Flip the Silver Switch

Barnes & Noble: Spin the Golden Light Bulb

Barnes & Noble: Flip the Silver Switch

IndieBound

So with that, I’m off again. Thanks for sticking with me this year as I’ve been on and off the blog. I’m looking forward to 2019. It should be a bit calmer, so I will be checking in here more often. Wish me luck on this draft. I’ll do the same for you…

Cheers to the end of 2018, and all the words we’ll be writing before the calendar page flips again!

❤ Jackie

Posted in Uncategorized

Swirl and Spark Blogiversary Winners!

Hey guys!

Thank you to all of you who entered my 5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway! Whoever said that giving is much better than receiving, is a wise person because this was so much fun!

If you’ve won one of the five prizes, please reach out to me at swirlandspark@gmail.com  with 5 YEAR BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY  in the subject line. If you’ve won a critique, I’ll give you instructions on how to proceed. If you’ve won the gift card or one of the two Book Bundles, please include your address, so I can mail out your prize!

The winners are: 

Critique of 1 Manuscript Chapter:

RB Frank (WritingOutLoud2)

 

Critique of 2 Manuscript Chapters:

Amy Hillman (ArHillman)

 

$25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card:

Vi Figueroa (@teacherfig)

 

The Crimson Five Book Bundle:

Miss Nikki (MissNikkIin5th)

 

The Crimson Five Book Bundle plus Bracelet:

Shari Sawyers (SawyersShari)

 

I plan on doing additional giveaways throughout the year, so if you didn’t win…maybe you will next time!

I hope you’re all having a productive week. Mine has been wild and emotional! Between dropping my son off at college, Flip the Silver Switch releasing, and now preparing for Saturday’s launch party, it has pretty much been a roller coaster ride! I have a pit the size of California in my stomach and I’m guessing it won’t go away until after the launch party or until I get used to not seeing my son’s sweet face every day. And really, will I every get used to that? I don’t think so!

Wish me luck on Saturday. Hopefully all will go well! We’re having cookies and cupcakes, kids activities, and a few MG and YA book giveaways…what could be better than that? I’ll be signing books too which is still pretty surreal to me! I guess I better figure how I’m signing this book though. I have a great inspirational quote that I sign on copies of Spin the Golden Light Bulb. Yikes! I need another one now.

But I’m not complaining. There was a time when signing books was so off my radar. I just wanted to get my story written. So if that’s where you are right now, just keep at it! Keep writing the words, and keep polishing them up. Your writing and story will improve with each read through. Soon it’ll be sparkly and ready to query.

And remember, it only takes one YES. I hope yours comes soon!

Thanks for checking in! I’ll be popping back in next week with an update on the launch party. 🙂

❤ Jackie

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Launch Day Love

She’s here! Flip the Silver Switch is here!

Flip the Silver Switch Book Release

  

My second book baby is here! Spin the Golden Light Bulb has a little sister!

FTSS- Two Books pic

 

And I can’t wait for you to meet her. I mean read it!!

FTSS- with me

 

Yesterday was a wonderful day and I just want to thank all of you who took the time to send me sweet messages of congratulations on the release of my second book. They meant the world to me and I felt the book love all day!

I’m so thrilled that you guys can finally read the continuing story of the Crimson Five kids. They’re a fun bunch to follow and I hope you like reading their latest adventure. Many questions will be answered in this book, and just like in the first, you’ll find out why certain characters act the way they do!! But I won’t say more because no spoilers here!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, the links are below. I’ve included the links for Spin the Golden Light Bulb too because you’ll definitely get more out of the whole story if you read them in order.

Amazon- Flip the Silver Switch

Barnes & Noble- Flip the Silver Switch

IndieBound- Flip the Silver Switch

Amazon- Spin the Golden Light Bulb

Barnes & Noble- Spin the Golden Light Bulb

IndieBound- Spin the Golden Light Bulb

It helps a new author so much by rating and reviewing their books on Amazon. There’s some magical algorithm at work when you reach 20 and then 50 and then 100 reviews. Your book then gets mentioned to more visitors buying books. So…if you’ve left a review on Goodreads, I’d appreciate it so much if you could copy it over onto Amazon. Or just saying, “I liked this book!” helps so much too. That’s, of course, if you actually like it!!

It also helps to request an author’s books at the library, not just because the library buys the book, but because it gets the book into the hands of more readers…and what’s more important than that?!

So thank you so much for doing so. I’m supremely grateful!!

And as a reminder…today is the last day to enter the Swirl and Spark 5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway! So be sure to enter. I’ll be announcing the winners right here, by Friday and on Twitter as well.

Oh and one more thing…

The Launch Party for Flip the Silver Switch is Saturday! If you’re local to the Rochester area, stop by. It’s happening from 2-4pm at Lift Bridge Books in Brockport, NY. There will be treats and books and activities for kids. It should be fun!

Have a great day everyone. I’m off to organize the Launch Party so if you need me I’ll be buried in craft materials and bookmarks!

Thanks for checking in!

❤ Jackie

 

Posted in Uncategorized

It’s Swirl and Spark’s 5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway!

How did we get here so fast?

Just five years ago, on August 16, 2013, I took the leap and started a blog. A blog called Swirl and Sparkthe site for kids who like to write. What began as a way to create a social media platform as a writer and reach my someday readers has evolved a bit through the years. I wrote my posts for kids at first, but quickly realized that the majority of people reading were adults—adult writers. And so the tagline soon became the site for kids at heart who like to write. But eventually, after several years, I finally needed an author site. So even though my blog is still written for writers, my website also needed to be a landing place for my books and a place to chat about all things publishing too.

It was tough as first, finding my groove and figuring out who I was writing for at first. Seasoned writers? Beginners? Published? Not yet published? But once I realized that blogging is nothing more than writing to a reader (whether that’s one reader or 1,000) it became much easier. Blogging became a way of sharing a bit of my life as a writer with anyone who was interested in reading. It became a means to be creative—in my own personal corner of the blogosphere.

Some days I love blogging. I love writing posts and sharing bits of myself with all of you. Some days it’s hard. Finding the right (or relevant) topic year after year for an audience can be time consuming and sometimes the words Just. Are. Not. There.

But somedays they are, and that’s when blogging can be great—a great way to connect with other people with the same interests. I wear my heart on my sleeve with whatever I write. That’s just me. Sometimes my posts ramble! But maybe you’ve also noticed long periods of time when I haven’t posted much at all. That usually means that I’m stressed or overwhelmed—or just not ready to share what’s going on.

My zodiac sign is Cancer, so for those of you who are into that sort of stuff (like me!) you know that makes perfect sense. I retreat into my shell once in a while. But when I come out, I’m all about sharing—usually oversharing! So this blog has been a fun tool for my creative oversharing side!

There’ve been many highlights on this blog over the years and a few  really stand out.

Back on August 16th, 2013, shortly after my first post went live, I checked my stats numbers and saw 156 views…on my very first post! I screamed throughout the house until I realized that the views had come from my own computer! I hadn’t learned there was an admin mode and so every time I clicked on a page, it was recorded as a page view! Alas, after that it took a very long time to even see one or two views!

Soon after, still watching my stats like a hawk, I saw thirty views in a fifteen minute span. I yelled again throughout the house, “Guys, someone’s on my blog! They’re clicking on every page!” A small voice from the bedroom upstairs called, “Sorry, Mom. I think that might be me.” Now how could I be mad that it actually was my 13 year-old son reading my blog?

Does anyone remember Critique Corner? It started as a critique session for kids and evolved into a middle grade and YA critique session for adult writers. It was fun while it lasted…but so much work! Maybe I should start it back up again??

One follower of this blog reached out to me asking if I’d was interested in being on-line Critique Partners. She caught me at just the right time in my writing life and not only did she become an amazing CP, but I now consider her a friend. I’m certain that neither of my books would have been published without her. Her name is Melyssa Mercado and if you’re not following her on Twitter, you should be. She’s hilarious and I have a strong feeling you’ll be reading her MG books one day soon!

Back when the blog started, I was un-agented and unpublished. Being able to share stories of both right here on this blog were definitely two huge highlights. And for those of you wondering, both my agent and my publisher said that although my writing and my story came first in their decisions to take me on, it didn’t hurt that I had this blog as an on-line presence! So for those of you wondering if you should hop on the blog-wagon, I say DO IT. I’ll most definitely check it out.

The biggest highlight by far though has been comments and emails from all of you. Knowing that what I’ve written has made an impression and inspired you somehow, has made all the hours spent on this blog worth it!

I hope I can continue to motivate you. I hope I can continue to find the words that encourage you to reach for your own writing dreams. Because as the tagline for Spin the Golden Light Bulb says:

Sometimes it takes a friend…to help make your dreams come true.

And now with the release of Flip the Silver Switch, I may have even more words of wisdom to share. The tagline for that is similar:

Sometimes it takes a whole team…to help you see things clearly.

So hopefully I’ve been that friend or teammate for you. Hopefully I can continue to be. Because if I can get published, anyone can. You just need the courage to believe it.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading and following this blog. I know there are many other places on line where you could be hanging out. The fact that you choose to check in with me, means the world!

So as a thank you, I thought today would be a great time to do a Swirl and Spark 5 Year Blogiversary Giveaway!

I’m giving away 5 prizes!

(1) Critique of one manuscript chapter from me…up to ten pages. I’ll provide feedback on plot, characters, dialogue, voice, and pacing… and make line edits (grammar and punctuation) as well.

(1) Critique of two manuscript chapters from me…up to twenty pages. I’ll provide feedback on plot, characters, dialogue, voice, and pacing… and line edits (grammar and punctuation) as well.

(1) The Crimson Five Book Bundle which includes the items below: a signed hardcover copy of my debut middle grade, Spin the Golden Light Bulb, a signed hardcover copy of the sequel, Flip the Silver Switch, coordinating signed bookmarks, and celebratory lollipops…because who doesn’t love lollipops?

The Crimson Five Book Bundle

(1) The Crimson Five Book Bundle plus Bracelet which includes the items below: a signed hardcover copy of my debut, Spin the Golden Light Bulb, the newly released sequel, Flip the Silver Switch, coordinating signed bookmarks, and celebratory lollipops…because lollipops! And also a cute DREAM  bracelet which I hope will inspire you to reach for yours!

The Crimson Five Book Bundle plus Bracelet

(1) $25 Barnes & Noble Gift card…because, we all love books, right?  And if you’re a writer working toward publication, one way to become a better writer is to read widely in your genre. So hopefully a gift card will help!

 

Barnes and Noble Gift Card

The Giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only and you must be 18 to enter. 

So how do you enter?

  1. Follow this blog (on the right side of this page). 
  2. Retweet my Blogiversary Giveaway tweet and follow me on Twitter.

One winner for each prize will be selected at random. The Giveaway runs for five days from August 16th through August 22 at 11:59pm EST. I’ll announce the winners by August 24, 2018, here on my blog and also on Twitter. (@JackieYeager)

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.

Good luck! Thanks for helping me celebrate 5 years of blogging!

I’ll be checking in with you again as we get closer to release day because we are getting so close! Just 5 more days until Flip the Silver Switch makes its grand entrance into the world! *Squeeeeeeeeee!*

Have a wonderful day, Lovelies…and I hope you win!

❤ 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

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

Finding Pockets of Time to Read & Write in the Summer

I’ve been scrolling through social media lately—as one does! Many of the people and accounts I follow (like many of you) are writerly types and so I love reading your updates of all things related to books. But still it amazes me how many of you are able to write more, read more, and blog/ vlog more through the summer months. On paper it makes perfect sense. The calendar says school is out and the sun shines longer. But still… IT’S SUMMER. There are so many things to do! How in the world do all of you find the time?

When it comes to reading and writing, I feel like the relaxed days of summer have passed me by already and I have no one to blame but myself. Hence, I decided to blog today about strategies for making time to write and making time to read over the summer, because really, I could use the reminder/ pep talk myself!

While I do love writing, obviously, and I do love reading, I’m not one to have my nose stuck in a book all the time—as much as I do like to imagine myself as Belle, roaming the streets of France with book in hand, or inside the Beast’s mansion getting caught up in a faraway land on a rainy summer morning.

This past week is the perfect example. After a few inspired days in Disney World with my husband and our two kids, we spent the week at a lovely beach resort in Hilton head, SC with my parents. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) It was relaxing and beautiful and just exactly the type of vacation I had been craving after a whirlwind few months post launch day, and more recently—post  graduation party planning/ hosting for my recent high school graduate. (Congrats, Adam!) But while I saw many people at the pool (some actually in the pool) reading a book, I was not one of them. I was too busy doing yoga on the beach with my daughter, catching up with my parents at the pool, and feeling the warm (okay blistering hot) sun on my face. Besides, there was a little girl from London I needed to meet (hello character inspiration!) AND some much needed sunshine calling my name!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, while it’s important to find time to write and get caught up in a good book, sometimes it’s just as important to reconnect with family and friends and experience life.

But.

You knew there would be a BUT coming. We’re writers. And writers need to write—even in the summer. We also need to read books. So guys, if you’ve let the summer pass you by without reading or writing as much as you had hoped, don’t dispair! There’s still plenty of time to grab a book from your to- be-read pile and get to work on your WIP. Read a chapter. Draft 100 words. Revise a paragraph. Any little bit will make a difference and most likely lead to reading another chapter, drafting another 500 words, and revising a whole scene.

Here are my best suggestions for getting those books read and words written during the summer months:

Peruse the library. It’s free and being surrounded by books in such a cozy place is soothing… and inspiring. Just think of all the gazillion hours that writers spent on creating the books that fill those shelves! They deserve to be read and enjoyed. Plus, libraries are air conditioned and I know you’re dying to get out of the heat right now.

Wake up before the sun does. We wait all year for the lazy days of summer, but we all know that somehow our lazy days fill up real fast. So before the kids are up, or you have to head off to appointments and work, or before you tackle chores at home…take some time for yourself. Set your alarm for 6am, don’t hit the snooze button, and grab your coffee and your laptop. Work for even an hour on your story while the sun rises. You know that it’s waiting to be written. Maybe it will help you to know that we’re all waiting to read it!

Read a book while you lunch. Instead of perusing social media or watching the news while you eat, open up a book and read—even a few pages. Your mind will appreciate the break from electronics and you may just be inspired to write a few more pages of your own later in the day.

Listen to a Book on Tape. Why not? Those are books too and a great way to experience a great read while doing other things—like driving or washing the kitchen floor.

Grab a notebook and write outdoors. Find a shady spot in your backyard or at the park and let the summer air—even if’s hot and sticky, inspire you to write. Write a scene or a whole chapter. There’s something about writing with good old pencil and paper that makes the whole process super relaxing. Sometimes laptops can make writing feel like work and that’s the last thing you want it to feel like when you’re trying to be creative! Besides, the slush and snow will be here before we know it, so we need all the summer air inspiration we can get!

So that’s it, my friends. It’s not quite rocket science but maybe these few quick tips will be the inspiration you need to get the words read and the words written this week. I’m planning on taking my own advice, and doing the same. I missed waking up before the sun today…I had a very feverish son up most of last night. But, I’m all about taking my notebook outside today to write, and reading a few pages of Allegiant by Veronica Roth while I eat lunch today. I absolutely adored Divergent, the first book in this series. And even though I liked Insurgent too, I read it at a snail’s pace. It literally took me forever. So I’m determined to read this final book in the series at a more reasonable rate. Have I mentioned I’m the world’s slowest reader though?

Good luck to me…and good luck to each of you. I hope we’re all able to find pockets of time this week and fill them up with words! And remember, if you need encouragement or just someone to connect with, comment away.

Until next time, let your incredible story ideas swirl and spark!

Jackie ❤

“Story ideas don’t appear on command. They swirl for awhile in the deepest parts of our minds. So let them. They’ll spark soon enough, and when that spark of an idea feels like fireworks, you’ll know it’s time to fire up your writer’s brain and write your story.”