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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

 

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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

 

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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

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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

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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

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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.”

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The Trail of MG Book Trailers

Hey Everyone!

I just returned from the most wonderful family vacation ever…a little Disney World time, and a little Hilton Head, SC time. It was busy and crazy and hot and magical and relaxing and full of fantastic family memories made with my husband, my kids, and my parents. Definitely a trip I won’t soon forget! I’m so grateful for these moments because life gets so busy sometimes… and I realize more and more all the time how important it is to spend time with the people most important to you.

I was not able to fit in any writing time at all though, but I did brainstorm a shiny new story idea on the LONG drive home. So that’s something! I also came up with the greatest non- writing idea ever—a new project and I hope you love it as much as I do!

I’m on the hunt for middle grade book trailers! I’ve created something called the Middle Grade Book Trailer Trail where I search for MG book trailers and give them a permanent home here on my website—a go-to place where you can peruse the page and watch them at your leisure .

How awesome is that?!

Many of you know how much I adore book trailers. I just can’t get enough of them. They’re the best way ever to take a peek inside the pages of a book before you actually flip open the cover. I not only love watching them in order to find out what the book is going to be about, but also to see the creative expression behind them. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re created professionally or by the author themselves. It’s just cool to see what type they put together.

Will it be dark and creepy? Will it be sad and heart-wrenching? Will it be light and airy? Will there be real actors or regular kids? Will there be actual illustrations from the book? Will there be a voice recorded over music? Will it look like a Hollywood production or will it look like the author filmed it in the woods behind her house on her phone? It doesn’t really matter to me, because I think they’re all good, in their own way—like a few minutes of book bliss set to music!

I decided to do it because I’ve had a really hard time finding MG book trailers, even on YouTube. It seems as though as soon as an author uploads one, it’s lost into the black hole of a gazillion other videos—which is such a travesty. I mean where are they all? Authors like me spend a lot of time and sometimes money planning, writing, editing, filming, and costuming to create them. We send them out into the world for readers to watch and some do. But then time goes by and well, they disappear. It’s not because they aren’t there anymore, but if a reader doesn’t know to look for your name or your book’s title, they’ll never find it. It’s frustrating because I know that librarians, teachers, parents, kids, and bloggers probably love watching them as much as I do.

So, I’ve taken matters into my own hands.

I’m reaching out to anyone and everyone on social media who is or knows of an author with a middle grade book trailer. (Email me if you are and want yours to be included!) I want to find the latest and greatest in new middle grade books, and then share their book trailers with all with you!

I started with my amazing debut author group, the Electric 18s and they were more than happy to share their trailers with me. Some of these books published earlier this year, and others will be published by the end of the year. But either way, I know you’re going to love them. They are so good! They definitely make me want to go out and buy their books or request them at the library.

I’ll be posting them as I receive them, but the first two are up already. The Mad Wolf’s Daughter (Diane Magras) and The Benefits of Being an Octopus (Ann Braden) are up first and I’ve posted them over on the MG BOOK TRAILER TRAIL page…but if you’re a YouTube kind of person, I’ve also set up a link to my YouTube channel so you can scroll through them one right after the other—like if you’re in a book trailer binging type of mood like I often am!

So click on over and take a peek. Both of these trailers are so good!

I’d love to know what you think of this book trailer hunting adventure. I know I cannot possibly be the only one who loves watching them! So, if you know any young readers, librarians, teachers, parents, or friends who might be interested in learning about new middle grade books this way, please direct them to my site or to my YouTube channel. I want them to be able to watch them too!

That’s it for today, guys. I hope you’re enjoying the summer. Keep writing, reading, and thinking up stories. The world is waiting to read them!

Have a great day…I’m off to search for more MG trailers. If you find any great ones (well, they’re all great actually!) please send them my way. I’d love to watch, and them give them a home right here!

*Hugs*

❤ Jackie

 

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The Unpredictability of Publishing

Hi Lovelies!

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

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

Stick with me as I share some seemingly unrelated events…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flip the Silver Switch- ARC spine

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

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

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

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

Jackie ❤

 

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Book Trailer Debut: Flip the Silver Switch

Hey Lovelies!

Spring is in the air and one of my favorite springtime colors is purple—the color of beautiful lilacs! Here in my hometown of Rochester, the Lilac Festival is a massive event. It draws people from all over. So, I thought what better time to debut the book trailer for my purple covered middle grade book than right now, right in the midst of the Lilac Festival?

For those of you not in the know, the book I’m referring to is Flip the Silver Switch, my second soon-to-be-published middle grade book (can you even believe it?), which just happens to be the sequel to Spin the Golden Light Bulb. It releases in 53 days on July 10, 2018 and I could not be more excited to share it with you! It was so much fun creating this video. Hopefully it’ll give you a sense of the amazing world of THE CRIMSON FIVE, this time against an international backdrop, and that you’ll be tempted to read it for yourselves!

So why choose to debut the trailer on countdown day 53? Well, THE CRIMSON FIVE series is set in the year 2071—53 years in the future, so I thought, “Why not?”

But before I do, here’s the blurb from my publisher to give you a bit of the story’s background:

Be Curious. Be Creative. Be Collaborative. Be Colorful. Be Courageous.

Fresh off their summer at Camp Piedmont, The Crimson Five kids are together again, headed for the Piedmont Global Championships. This time, Kia and her four New York teammates travel to Quebec where they’re challenged to solve a new mind-bending task against 99 international teams. But at the Universite de Creativite, they discover a world where inventions like Thought Translation Machines and Clothes Copiers aren’t the only secrets kept.

While Kia, Ander, Mare, Jax, and Jillian attempt to create a life-changing invention in just two weeks, they’re faced with information that could alter the course of the Global Championships and force their team out of the competition. With their newfound friendship at stake, they realize that staying in Quebec and solving the Global task will require something more than just skill and imagination.

The team must focus and unite like never before to solve their hardest task yet if they have any chance of winning a coveted spot on the year-long Swirl and Spark Creativity Tour and keeping their team together.

The Crimson Five are together again.

Because sometimes it takes a whole team to help you see things clearly.

Well, I hope you enjoy it!  Feel free to share this post everywhere…and thank you so much for watching!

Jackie ❤

Flip the Silver Switch Official Book Trailer:

 

 

To add it on Goodreads, click here.

To pre-order from Amazon, click here.

To pre-order from Barnes & Noble, click here.

To pre-order from an independent bookseller, click here.

To stare at the pretty cover by the amazing Gabrielle Esposito look here:

Flip the Silver Switch Final Cover

 

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A Love Letter to Odyssey of the Mind

 

I spent seven years as a middle school Odyssey of the Mind Coach. For those not familiar with the program—the amazing competition, click here. But now as I write this, it has been four years since I relinquished my title. In some ways it feels like forever ago, like a piece of my history (and my heart) that’s long in the past. But in some ways, I still feel very much a part of its world and I wonder if I always will.

I owe so much to OotM and some might find that strange because I never participated in it as a student—even though the program was around when I was a student. My school didn’t offer it, and looking back now, I realize how much I would have loved it. I would have loved writing the scripts and creating the costumes, and I would have loved performing for the judges along side my friends. I’m very much a peacemaker and so if there were any squabbles between the bunch of us, I’m certain I would have tried to smooth things over. I would have love the adrenaline rush of being on stage and I would have loved winning, if we ever did! But more than anything, I would have loved being part of a team—a creative team. Maybe that’s why I loved coaching so much.

I sort of fell into coaching actually. When my daughter was in fourth grade, she and her friends wanted to form a team and try it. And so being the super involved parent that I was, I teamed up with another mom and we coached together. I have to admit, we floundered at first. We pretty much had no idea what we were doing and being a hands-off facilitator (like the rules require) to a group of seven strong-willed girls was no easy task. But it was wonderful to watch them learn to work together towards a common goal and create something out of nothing—to solve a complex task. There were definitely squabbles, there were oh so many tears, and there were tons and tons of laughs. But most of all, there was creativity and teamwork and problem solving…and it was amazing.

Those early years of coaching taught me that winning ribbons and trophies wasn’t the most important thing. If the girls were smiling, having fun, and creating things they were proud of, then it was worth every second. I eventually found my footing as a coach by the time my son and his friends formed a team of both boys and girls—and at that point, I coached the team on my own. For several years, the same core group of kids were together and for the first time, I really understood my role as a coach. Sure it was my job to provide snacks and a place to meet, and to help foster a creative environment-one that encourages kids to question. And it was also my job to NOT offer outside assistant when it came to solving the problem. But my real role as a coach was to bring out the best in the kids so that they could flourish individually and as a part of the team.

I never anticipated the success my fifth grade team from Rogers Middle School would have in 2011. It all came as a shock—without any warning. I never had one of those moments where I thought, my team is going to win it all. That’s not the way Odyssey of the Mind works. It’s a competition that rewards following the program guide and creatively solving a problem as a team. It also rewards solving spontaneous problems—again in the most creative ways. Those outcomes are not something that can be predicted.

I’ve written before about what an incredible experience competing at the NY State competition was through the years and also how absolutely thrilling it was to be competing against teams from all around the world at the World Finals. So I won’t go on an on about that again!

But you may not know that THE CRIMSON FIVE books were inspired by our experience with Odyssey of the Mind—that I started planning the book that would become Spin the Golden Light Bulb shortly after our trip to the World Finals. I continued to write that book all while I continued to coach that team—for the next three years. As the years went on though, and my team continued to win competitions, it wasn’t their medals or trophies that impressed me. It was their ability to work as a team, to play to each other’s strengths, and work through obstacles.

But personally, those were really intense years. Both my son and daughter were involved in sports and being an Odyssey of the Mind coach (or team member!) takes up a lot of time…from August until March—and even longer if you move on in the competition like we did. I found it really hard to work on my writing and to develop the story of the Crimson Five, even though it was constantly on my mind itching to make its way onto the page. There were only so many hours in the day!

When the team ultimately decided to walk away from OotM, that they were ready to try other things in high school, I knew it was the right decision for them and for me. But it was such a bittersweet feeling because even though I knew in my heart that my team was ready to move on—that I was ready to move on, it still wasn’t easy. I loved the program, loved the friendships and connections I had made because of it, and loved all that my kids and the kids I had coached had become—because of it.

For years after, I worked on my story, but I never went back to any of our local competitions. I never signed up to become a judge—even though I would love to do that some day. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t go back. I knew I would just be sad. But every year on the first weekend of March, I would think about it, think about the kids, coaches, parents, and organizers who were creating their own memories there. And it made me happy. It wasn’t until last year, that my son and I did go back to watch the regional competition in our area. And I have to tell you that it was weird for both of us. It was amazing. It was…bittersweet. I missed being there with my team—any of my teams, any of the kids that put their hearts into creating something out of nothing. But I was also happy and grateful that I had experienced what I did and for memories that will always be a part of me.

And that brings me to this weekend—the weekend of our regional competition. I wish all the teams good luck—especially those in the West Irondequoit School District. No matter what the outcome is, no matter how many lines you forget, or sets that malfunction, or costumes that get put on backwards…keep going and keep smiling because those are moments that will stay with you always…even more than the ribbons or trophies. And one day (like me!) you’ll look back at the experience and won’t be sad it’s over, you’ll be thrilled that you were part of it and so very grateful!

Spin the Golden Light Bulb is a published book now because I walked away when I did. I never would have had the time to write it if I didn’t. And now this book is for the thousands of kids who’ve loved Odyssey as much as mine did and those who may never have the chance. Maybe that’s why this review on Goodreads and Amazon means so much to me… besides the fact that former Omers are discovering the story! I guess in a way this book is a love letter to OotM and all the good it has meant for kids around the world. It was such a joy to write it, and I hope those reading it will feel a bit of that same joy too!

“Okay, raise your hand if you did Odyssey of the Mind as a kid. Yes? Then this joy-filled middle-grade novel is most definitely for you. Main character Kia is plucky and quirky and hilarious, but also gets frustrated when faced with something that seems insurmountable, much like a very real sixth-grader. Middle-grade readers will love the futuristic world and tightly-paced plot, but this book is ultimately a love letter to creativity and collaboration. It dives deep into the mind of an endearing, smarty-pants girl bursting with ideas that she needs to put out into the world. It also has some very poignant things to say about family and the tension between wanting kids to dream big, and also wanting them to be okay if those dreams don’t come true. Can’t wait for the sequel!”                                 …Erin (E.C)

STGLB-trophy pic