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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.


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!


❤ 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

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Playing Favorites with your Characters

Creating characters can be tricky.

They need to feel real to the reader or the reader will roll their eyes or shake their heads…and stop reading. I always tell writers to make a list of fifty facts about their characters to get started. This way they’ll have a list of facts to work with as they draft. They’ll also see pattern begin to form and their personalities develop—just like a real person. But sometimes instead of hitting the magic number of 50 or whatever number you’re trying to get to, it’s easier to just let your mind wander as you brainstorm character traits.

Not sure what I mean? I’ll begin creating a character profile on myself, starting with my likes and dislikes. Then I’ll let you decide for yourself, how you would turn me into an actual character.

Things I Like:
Smoothies, raviolis, enchiladas, and pizza
Caramel iced coffee, chai tea, flavored coffee with sweet cream creamer, and Diet Coke
Snickerdoodle cookies, cinnamon coffee cake, and vanilla cake with buttercream frosting
Chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, and black raspberry ice cream
Heath Bars and Werthers
(Notice, I like treats!)
Disney World, Cape Cod, Hilton Head, and Bermuda
Cute coffee shops, wood fired pizza places, and bookstores
Coffee dates, lunch dates, and dinner dates
Castles, motivational anything, and Christmas
Being home, decorating, Marshalls, Home Goods, and Wegmans.
Yoga, hikes, kayaking, and lying out by the pool.
Chatting with my kids and chatting with their friends
Chatting about books
Clothes, shoes, and purses
Stranger Things, Friends, This is Us, How to Get Away with Murder, Colony, and The Young and the Restless
Cheering for my husband and kids
Editing College Essays
Imagination and writing about kids with imagination
Little kids, babies, and puppies
Gymnastics, tennis, and cheerleading
The Olympics, the Red Sox, and riding in carriages
Weddings, fancy hotels, and dressing up.
Positive people
Desk accessories
Family time and fairy tales

Thinks I Don’t Like:

Driving in snow
Not being organized
A messy house and being late
Running out of creamer
When my kids are sad
Not living in a warm climate, or a castle
Not being a princess
Snakes, mice, and bugs
Cleaning the house
Speaking in front of large groups
The fact that I haven’t invented anything
Not having enough time
The fact that I haven’t invented a way to stretch time.

So that’s that. There’s probably more—actually there is more, but as least you get the idea. If this was your character’s list of favorite things and not so favorite things, from there you would be able to create a profile.

What makes her tick? What types of things make her happy? What motivates her? What terrifies her? What does she dream of? If these answers are not on the list, you’ll know where you need to fill in the blanks. You’ll know what parts of her personality you need to develop. You’ll also have some fun things to use as filler throughout the story, like her favorite foods, favorites places to visit—or least favorite school subjects.

As you create the profile, you can get even more in depth by asking questions like, what was her most embarrassing moment or what was her most traumatic experience? The deeper you go, the better you’ll know your character—and that’s the goal. If your character feels like a real person to you, she’ll certainly feel like a real person to your reader too!

What about you? What tricks do you use for creating characters? Do you use a list similar to this or just wing it as you write your draft?

Speaking of drafting, it feels like forever since I’ve worked on something new. I think I’m going to have to change that.

Laptop with castle

Castles anyone?

If you read through my list, you may have noticed I have a thing for them! Who knows? Maybe my next book will be a fairy tale:)

Have a great Monday, my lovelies. I hope you enjoyed reading my lists! See you next week!

Jackie ❤


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Books That Make your Mind Wander

Happy Monday!

I have to admit I struggled this week with what to blog about. I’ve spent so much time over the last several months posting about my book that I was really starting to feel like a used car salesman or something. Nothing against car salesmen. We all need a used car at some point in our lives, after all!

My mind started wandering every time I thought about topics. Usually to things like, what should I post next on Instagram? How can I update my living room this winter without spending a fortune? When is the sequel to Caravel coming out?

This site is my happy place—a place where I can let you guys in on my life, the things that make me happy and inspired. And so I stopped trying to figure out what to write about and realized that I should just think about whatever I want…let my mind wander. And so I did. I continued to think about Caravel, the YA novel by Stephanie Garber—the book I’ve been enamored with since I read it late last year.

If there ever was a book I wish I had written, that would be it.

But being able to read it is almost just as good. It’s magical and enchanting and mesmerizing. And yes all of those things mean basically the same thing but I feel like one adjective isn’t enough in this case. The story is so original that I often wonder how Stephanie Garber came up with such a great idea. I love the characters too (so much!) but I realized immediately after I read the last page and closed the book, that it’s the world of Caravel I was going to miss the most. And I was right. In the months since I’ve read it, I have found myself thinking about it and anxiously awaiting the sequel—which is  releasing in May!

The funny thing is, I don’t even own the book. I bought it for my niece, thinking she would love it, and after she read it, I shamelessly begged her to borrow it. But then after I read it, that awful moment came when I had to return it to her. Because it was a gift—to her. Not to myself! And now the sequel, Legendary is coming and I obviously have to buy both books because I want to put them on my shelf to read again and again.

I’m not the type of reader who inhales books. I don’t read a book, finish it in two days, and move on to the next. I don’t take on reading challenges or commit to reading 50 books a year. I’m a pretty slow reader. I tend to lose myself in the story if I love the book, or labor through it if I don’t. Maybe that’s why I think about them long after I read them. I space them apart pretty well because I feel like if I finish one book and move right on to the next, I’ll forget something wonderful about it. Maybe not details or facts about the story, but the way the story made me feel.

Caravel is one of those books for me—a story I was easily lost in, easily transported to. And so this weekend when I should have been thinking about what to blog about, I was clicking around Stephanie Garber’s website and learning that not only is Caravel’s sequel coming soon, the movie rights have been sold too!! So how in the world was I supposed to blog about anything else when my mind kept wandering back to the sights and sounds of one of my favorite books?

But I’m hoping you’re okay with that because now you have a YA book recommendation instead! It’s funny how often our minds wander to scenes from our favorite movies or books, isn’t it?

What about you? What’s that book for you, a book that takes your thoughts away from the present and makes you think about it long after you’ve read the last page? Please let me know in the comments because maybe I’ve never heard of it or maybe I just need a nudge it that direction. With so many incredible books out there, there’s bound to me another that will make my mind wander– and probably someone else’s too!

Speaking of book recs and books that make your mind wander, I have a great list to share with all of you…

The Best STEAM Chapter Books for Kids! The list was complied by which is run by Melissa Taylor, a book blogger, educator, and literacy trainer. I’m so thrilled to say that she included Spin the Golden Light Bulb on that list! I mean there are amazing books on it, many that I’ve read, and to be listed with them is wonderful. Take a look if you’re looking for books related to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. The list is broken down into two groups: beginning chapter books for kids ages 6-8 and middle grade chapter books for kids ages 8-12. Click here to read it and many other great lists of books too!

Oh and before I forget, you may have noticed a new header image on my site. I’m working on a more permanent one but until then, I really wanted an update. There’s no big reason for it, I just liked this one for now!

I hope you have a fantastic week full something that inspires you to be creative—whether it’s a song or a book or a walk in the crunchy snow. Monday is the day of endless possibilities and I plan on making the most of it. I hope you will too!

STGLB Quote 1

Jackie ❤


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Just Put One Word in Front of the Other

Hey Guys,

I hope you had a great weekend!

As you know, I live a very glamorous life and so my weekend was filled with organizing paper type stuff.  Now I may be a writer and love paper and pens and such, but organizing mail and bills, etc., is not what I would call fun. Like at all. But now that it’s done I feel so much better—less stressed and more ready to tackle far more interesting projects.

I did manage to have some fun too though, watching my son play hockey and watching the Olympics so that means the weekend was a win. There’s something inspiring about watching athletes battle it out after years of practice, practice, and more practice that makes me want to tackle something big too and give it all I’ve got!

The Olympics have special meaning for me this time around. Just like the athletes, it feels all sorts of amazing to realize that something I’ve worked towards for so long was totally worth it. And that very thought got me thinking. I want you guys to have that same realization. Whatever your goal, whatever your wish…I want you to get to the point where you realize it was all worth it.

I know most of you reading this blog are writers or people interested in some aspects of the publishing world and books—like writing them, reading them, blogging about them, teaching with them, selling them, recommending them, or reading them to your kids. So your goal may be to get a book published, but it may not be.

Maybe your goal is to start a blog or you tube channel—to reach thousands of kids by recommending books. Maybe your goal is to open an ETSY shop of book related stuff. Maybe your goal is to become an editor because your world is made happier when you’re reading stories and making them sparkle. Or maybe it’s something else.

But you’re too afraid to take that first step. You don’t know where to start. You don’t think anyone would watch your channel. You don’t have any connections in the publishing industry. You don’t want to fail. You don’t want to waste your time if nothing’s going to come of it.

So I guess all those are valid fears, but I hope you won’t give in to them. Someone is out there who would love to read the book you wrote or the book you edited, or buy your word art, or watch your Youtube videos. I guarantee it. And if there’s one person, there’s probably more.

That’s what kept me going when I struggled through the days of finishing my draft, revising, finding an agent, signing a book contract, and what keeps me going now while I wonder if people actually like my book. Because as long as there is one…if my book made an impact on one reader, then I can’t help but smile—and shriek because ohmygodohmygod someone read my book and liked it!

There’s nothing like that feeling and I want that for all of you too.

This week I received a review on Goodreads from a reader named Elysa whom I’ve never met before. (Thanks, Elysa!) It really stood out to me and not just because she mentioned Spin the Golden Light Bulb in the same breath as Harry Potter! But really, can you even??

Her words resonated with me because of her comments about big dreams.

I absolutely adored this book. It’s fun and nostalgic and reminded me of what it’s like to be a kid with big dreams. I can’t remember what my big dreams were when I was Kia Krumpet’s age, but I remember that they changed often and seemed to get bigger and bigger. As I grew up, my dreams became smaller and more realistic, as happens with adulthood. But this book is incredibly inspirational. It teaches you that your dreams are within reach, you just have to work harder and get a team to support you.

This would have easily been one of my favorite books if I read this as a kid and would have deserved a spot on my bookshelf next to Harry Potter and Charlie Bone. As an adult, I still consider it a new favorite and have added it to my favorite’s shelves on Goodreads. I may be about 12 years older than when this would have been most impactful to me, but it’s better late than never, right? Besides, I still have room on my shelf next to Harry Potter and Charlie Bone where it will stay until my young family members grow old enough to read it.

I hope that you’ll think of her words as you go about your day. Just because you’re an adult, you don’t have to let go of your dreams and larger than life pursuits. Maybe, just maybe you’ll have a greater chance of achieving them because you’re ready to accept the challenge.

And I hope you are!

It’s Monday, my friends and there’s no better day to put one word in front of the other. That one word can lead to bigger things than you’ve ever imagined—or maybe the exact thing that you’ve always dreamed of!

STGLB- typewriter

Happy Monday!

Jackie <3


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Going for the Gold…Virtual Book Signing!

The Winter Olympics officially begin tonight! Gold is up for grabs all over the world…but not just gold medals. Today marks one month since Spin the Golden Light Bulb’s release and THE CRIMSON FIVE kids are competing for their own gold…Golden Light Bulbs! In honor of these golden days, I’ve teamed up with my local indie bookseller for a Virtual Book Signing!

Here’s how it works:

Order a copy of Spin the Golden Light Bulb from Lift Bridge Books in Rochester, NY anytime from February 9th through February 25th and you’ll receive a signed hardcover copy mailed to your door along with a cool bookmark.

It’s my way of supporting small bookshops who are doing their best to compete with the power house booksellers, while at the same time reaching those of you who can’t easily get to author events.

Here’s the link to Lift Bridge Books.

Lift Bridge is the sponsoring bookseller for the Rochester Children’s Book Festival and amazing people to work with—pure gold!  I hope you’ll consider participating:)

And…many of you saw that Cover Reveal Day for Flip the Silver Switch was yesterday. Thank you so much for your kind words about it. Obviously I had little (I mean nothing!) to do with the design, but it still makes me happy that you like it so much…I still haven’t stopped staring at it!

So now I’m off to sign some books, work on my school presentation for an upcoming author visit, and then settle in to watch the Opening Ceremony. I’m a huge fan of the Olympics and always feel so inspired after watching the incredible performances and hearing the athletes’ inspiring stories. Will you be watching? What’s your favorite event? Mine are figure skating, freestyle skiing, speed skating, and ski jumping. But really I love watching all of them. Let the games begin!

STGLB- trophy pic

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! See you Monday with a new post:)

Think More. Work Hard. Dream Big!

Jackie ❤