Aug. 10th, 2017
1. The Spirit Catchers on the iBookstore
If you've been following me on Twitter, then feel free to skip ahead to the next update. If you haven't, then I have news for you: The Spirit Catchers is finally available for download in the iBookstore for just $2.99. Keep your eyes peeled for further updates as TSC becomes available across other platforms (I'm looking at you, Amazon... and Kobo... and Barnes & Noble).
2. The Moving Mountains series
Again, this is old news on Twitter, but if you've stumbled across my website via some obscure detour on the Information Superhighway, then you're in for a story. Got your popcorn ready? Good. Here we go.
So, for those of you who don't know, I've been working on the YA series on and off for over 10 years. When I conceived of these characters at the tender age of 15, I had no plans to turn their story into a series. More on this in a minute.
Prior to writing Cowboy Heart, I had attempted to write (and publish) a YA series centering on a 13-year-old girl named Harley Egan (I still love that name, by the way). Harley, an aspiring equestrian, lived on a ranch with her incorrigible family, whom, in spite of their living arrangements, refused to have any involvement in their youngest daughter's riding career (um, okay?!) Harley had a bestie named Kyle Gorder, who was also an equestrian of sorts (you see where this is going, right? Good.) Harley and Kyle had a thing for each other (or so I can assume, since it's been about 13 years since I wrote this pitiful attempt at the Next Great Canadian Novel), which eventually culminated in the two of them getting married, buying a house, and then Kyle being deployed to Iraq, only to return home with a very unconvincing case of PTSD. Pretty heady stuff, and as bad as the writing may have been (just trust me on this one), at least it got me thinking about worldbuilding and what it takes to write a series.
Fast forward about two and a half years: I get a similar idea with slightly older characters, and decide to take another crack at writing the Next Great Canadian Novel. 59,000+ words later, I end up with a rough-as-sandpaper first draft of Cowboy Heart. It lives in a drawer for a few years until a friend suggests self-publishing. At 18, I self-publish my very first book. At 19, I self-publish the sequel, Tequila Sonata (highly appropriate title given that no one in my intended readership is legal by Canadian standards). As soon as book 2 hit the virtual shelves, I had assumed I would forget about these characters and move on to other stories. Turns out, only one of these predictions came true.
When I made contact with AMPL Publishing in May of 2014, they wanted to bring both Cowboy Heart and Tequila Sonata on board, which I agreed to do. But guys, let's be real for a second: when you write and self-publish your first "real" book at 18, there are going to be some, uh, issues. The plot had more holes than Swiss cheese (escaping out a boarding school window and trespassing on private property with no legal repercussions? Yeah, right.), the characters sounded like something out of a John Wayne movie, and I did so much damage to the English language I might as well have been wearing a butcher's smock. But it had potential, so we ran with it. When it was all said and done, I had a 95% brand-new book called Fate Unwritten that made me 1000% happier than its predecessor, plus a new and improved appreciation for Word's built-in Spellchecker. That's it, I said. No more books after this. I didn't want my characters wearing out their welcome.
Famous last words, right?
I began plotting book #2 (Roads Untraveled) a couple of weeks after Fate Unwritten released. Book 2 took me 17 months to write. You read that right. 17 months and about eight full-scale rewrites later, I had a passable first draft. I sent it to a beta reader--something I'd never done before--and she loved it. Then I sent it to my editor (the same incredible human being who helped me to transform my self-published train wreck into a respectable work of marketable fiction). We're now 11 chapters into the edits and I'm as grateful as ever to have found such a solid team.
And THEN I did a crazy thing: I wrote the third book.
But wait--it gets crazier. It wasn't enough for me to write another book so soon after finishing the second one. No, sir. I was going to do it in under a year. It was going to be ROUGH, but damn it, I was going to do this if it made me never want to write another book ever again.
I had an overall word count goal of 80K--the average length for books in this genre. At 40K, I decided I wasn't happy with the story, so I rewrote it. From scratch. Buh-bye progress. Five months of work down the toilet in one afternoon (FYI, I saved the original chapters, just in case I needed to mine them for details later. This never happened.)
My plan, originally, was to surprise my beta with a copy of book 3 (aka, Words Unspoken) for her birthday at the beginning of August. But then, around the beginning of July, I started getting tired. I missed writing fantasy and had an idea for a dystopian story that was itching to be written. So, I thought: what if I finished the book by July 31st? Bear in mind that the finish line was still 50,000 words away. NBD. That was only 1,667 words a day. Totally doable, provided I forego sleep and basically every other essential bodily function. Okay, let's do this. NaNoWriMo in July it is, then.
Two weeks later, I'd written about 22,000 words. 28,000 words and two weeks 'til deadline. I CAN DO THIS.
But, can I do this in a week? That's 4,000 words a day. But wait, it's Thursday. Assuming the week ends on Sunday, that leaves me with FOUR days to write, and not seven. That's 7,000 words a day.
Full disclosure: I didn't write 7,000 words a day (well, I did on the first day, but that's it). I did eventually hit my 80,000 word target, about three days after my Sunday evening deadline, and let me tell you: I have never been so happy to finish something in my whole life. So as of right now, the YA series is "done." I do not wish to write another word about these characters for as long as I live. It's over. Finito. I'm moving on to bigger (and hopefully better) things. AND I AM NEVER WRITING 7,000 WORDS A DAY AGAIN.
I was going to give you a third update, but now? Forget it. You've been through enough. Get up. Stretch. Check your phone. You've earned it.
Until next time, you know exactly where to find me (hint: it starts with a T).
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March 13th, 2017
Okay, so I realize it's been a very long time since my last update, but now that things are finally back on track, I thought I'd drop in and let you know what's going on.
1. The Spirit Catchers
If you've been following me on Twitter, then you already know that I've finished designing the covers (feel free to hop over to my Books page and see for yourself). I've also acquired the ISBN, written the copyright page, and formatted the manuscript for printing. All that's left to do is one last round of edits, then it's off to the races. My unofficial book launch day has been set for March 31st, so stay tuned for updates.
2. First Blood
What began as an innocent short story quickly morphed into a full-fledged novella (with the potential to become a novel, but we won't go there right now). First Blood is the unofficial sequel to The Spirit Catchers, and I will be self-publishing it later this year (I don't have a specific timeline in mind, but it will definitely be sometime before December).
3. Roads Untraveled
More than a year after releasing Fate Unwritten, I'm finally ready to turn my focus over to the next book in the series. While it's still too early to hammer out an official publication schedule, I would love to have this book available for purchase in October--that way, I'll have published two books two years apart.
4. Book 3 of the Moving Mountains series (title pending)
Casually dubbed #MMB3 on Twitter, this is the sequel to Roads Untraveled and the last book in the series. My hope is that once The Spirit Catchers is published, I will finally have time to begin seriously working on the final installment (I say 'seriously' because I've been dabbling in scenes here and there--sometimes on paper, but usually in my head. There's only so much time I can spend in front of my computer). After that, it's goodbye to these characters and on to new adventures.
That should be all for now. If I think of anything else, I'll be sure to tweet about it.
My November in a nutshell... Wish me luck.
September 19th, 2016
Well, it's been a few months since my last update, so I thought I'd check in and bring you up to speed on some of my latest projects. This could take a while, so you might want to get comfortable...
I'm still not exactly sure what compelled me to create a YouTube channel, but it doesn't matter. The point is, I took the leap and am now working towards overcoming my terminal camera shyness. Right now I'm working on finding ways to incorporate YouTube into my overall marketing strategy, but if you have any tips or suggestions for improvement, I'd love to hear them.
2. Free Fall
I mentioned this in my YouTube video, but for those of you who haven't yet had a chance to visit my channel, allow me to give you the skinny. I finished writing the story on September 10th. At 92,000+ words, it's a monster of a manuscript, but as of right now I don't have any plans to publish it outside of my blog. Maybe if I find someone who's willing to wade into the ocean of controversy, I'll reconsider, but for now I'm fairly content to let it rest. It's far from perfect, but at least it's done, and at the end of the day, that's really all that matters. I was never meant to be a polished, salable piece of art; it was an experiment, an exercise in personal accountability. By documenting this journey on social media, I had no excuse not to finish it, but now that it's well and truly behind me, there's something you should probably know...
3. The Spirit Catchers
...I may or may not have started writing another book: a fantasy/science fiction hybrid story about a malevolent force out to render death and its employees obsolete. This one will not be published on my blog. I'm far too in love with the idea to risk having it plagiarized. So, instead, I'm going to chip away at it behind closed doors (or, you know, my computer screen). If you're following me on Twitter you're sure to catch a glimpse of an excerpt here and there, but that's it. Depending on how it all turns out, and whether or not I can procure some reliable beta readers, I may decide to publish it through AMPL, but nothing is set in stone yet.
4. Roads Untraveled
I'm really starting to wish I'd kept track of all the hours I spent working on this story. I wrote the first draft of the outline on October 12th, 2015, but stopped keeping track of my changes some time after the third draft of the manuscript. Now, five and a bit drafts later, I think I'm finally ready to hand it over to an editor.
So what I have I learned from writing the same story five times? Well, first of all, I've learned that an outline is just that--an outline, a way to corral your ideas into one area so you can examine them more closely. It's not a binding covenant. It's just a guideline.
Also, give the characters time to marinate in their conflicts. More often than not, their personalities will be much deeper if you allow them to evolve on their own terms. Take Victor and Adrianna's story, for instance: what originally began as a case of one character friend-zoning another eventually blossomed into a mutual understanding that sometimes friendship is more valuable than romance. After all, I don't write romance. I write love stories, and this series is chock-a-block full of love.
Here's an excerpt to tide you over:
Well, that should be all for now. As always, if anything else comes up, I'll be sure to mention it on Twitter or my Facebook page.
Rock on, friends.
July 23rd, 2016
Greetings and salutations!
Okay, so I realize it's been a few months since I updated my homepage, but it hasn't been for lack of content (believe me, it's never for lack of content). With two manuscripts on the go and a few exciting developments on the social media front, I've had more than enough to keep me busy in recent weeks.
So, without further ado, allow me to bring you up to speed:
I've always said I wanted to host a weekly Twitter chat. Well, now I do. #WritersLifeChat is a new hashtag devoted to inspiring discussion around the writing lifestyle--or, as I like to say, the stories behind the stories. It's open to all genres and all levels of skill and experience. If you're on Twitter, simply search #WritersLifeChat, click on my profile, and scroll through until you find the questions. We meet every Wednesday at 8PM EST.
2) Free Fall
I did it, guys. I finally came up with a title for my New Adult novel (you know, the one you've been reading on my blog...you have been reading it, right?) I'm still undecided as to whether I'd like to publish it in paperback format, but for the time being my goal is to finish it before the end of August.
3) Roads Untraveled (Moving Mountains, book #2)
The first draft is done. So are the second, third, and fourth drafts. I'm now on the fifth draft, and even though it still has a long, long way to go before it ever sees an editor's desk, at least you can count on there being a sequel to Fate Unwritten.
I will post more updates as they become available. My goal is to begin drafting the synopsis within the next month, and I would like to have the artwork for the cover chosen before the end of the summer, but we'll see.
And, if you haven't already, be sure to check out my author page on Facebook. It has cool updates, like screenshots of Twitter conversations and pictures of my books. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
That should be all for now. Peace,
April 15th, 2016
Looking for New Adult fiction with a suspenseful twist? I've got just the thing:
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March 8th, 2016
Okay, a few things:
(1) I'm currently in the process of chipping away at the second draft of the sequel to 'Fate Unwritten' (title pending). While it's difficult to pin down a specific publication schedule (especially before the manuscript has been edited), I'm hoping to release an excerpt as early as this summer. Keep checking back here and on my various social media channels for updates.
(2) As soon as I finish drafting book #2, I plan to begin writing a tentative outline for book #3. I say 'tentative' because as much as I love these characters and this series, I also believe it would be beneficial to take a break from this labour of love to embark on new creative adventures. Which brings me to my third point...
(3) I'm going to attempt something I've never done before: use my blog as a book publishing platform and solicit feedback in real time. I have a few reasons for wanting to pursue this idea:
1. It's something new and different. I love new and different.
2. Beta readers are hard to come by in real life, so why not seek them out online? Writing a book in front of a (semi)live audience will keep me accountable, especially when I begin promising a new chapter every week or two.
3. The story itself. It's quirky. It's irreverent. It may even be downright inappropriate at times. Definitely not family-friendly by any stretch of the imagination, and probably not something I should attempt to publish alongside my family-friendly YA series.
So, that's that. As always, if you'd like to get in touch, feel free to reach out to me on social media or drop me a line at jessingoldbooks(at)outlook(dot)com.
Until next time,
February 10th, 2016
Author Spotlight: Lynn Worthington
On Saturday, February 6th, I had the pleasure of meeting AMPL's very own Lynn Worthington. Lynn is the author of Billy Bass: The 5 Waves Rocks, which examines humankind's impact on the waterways through the eyes of a smallmouth bass named Billy. Read more here.
Left: Lynn Worthington at Kelsey's restaurant in Bowmanville, Ont.; right: a young fan poses with a giant lure
December 31st, 2015
Looking forward to 2016
Okay, I'll admit it: I love making New Year's resolutions. To some, this may seem like a trite revelation. After all, why wait until December 31st to set or revise goals, right? While I agree that there is no timeline for personal improvement, the writer in me loves the idea of starting fresh, and January 1st seems as good a time as any.
This year, I have chosen to make only one resolution, and it's this: simplify. Is it generic? Yes. Is it vague? Absolutely, but that's why I love it. Simplicity is beautiful, but, sadly, underrated. In the words of Confucius, "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated."
I'm a very simple person. I have little tolerance for everyday superfluities such as drama or politics, gossip or vapid chitchat. Life is too short to waste comparing oneself to others, or trying to live up to some obscure, often outdated social expectation. If something makes you happy, do it. If you love someone, tell them. Be the change you want to see. This doesn't mean you won't encounter setbacks along the way, but in my experience, the best solutions are often the simplest ones.
So, there you have it, friends. My one and only super-ambiguous-yet-strangely-optimistic New Year's resolution. Simplify. Eat well. Exercise regularly. Think positively. Act kindly. Listen more than you speak. Laugh often. Be honest. Be bold. Be you. Simplify.
Happy New Year, everyone!
October 25th, 2015
Today's the day!
Click here to download your copy of Fate Unwritten, available exclusively in the AMPL Publishing bookstore. Ratings & reviews welcome!
October 13th, 2015
First off, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know I certainly did (mainly because I got to celebrate twice--yay for extended family!)
Second, I thought I'd let you know that there's been a slight change of plans with Fate Unwritten's release date. Originally, the plan was to publish the book in September, but with my work being as busy as it usually is around that time of year, we decided to postpone the release until October 15th. Unfortunately, this meant that Fate Unwritten would be coming out a mere six days after our latest children's book, Georgia Goes to Bed.
That being said, we decided to push the date back again, now to October 25th. If you'd like to read the book's blurb, you can do so by clicking here.
I'm so excited to be able to share this story with all of you. It's been a long time coming, and I can't believe the big day is almost here. As soon as the book goes live, I'll post a link to download it on AMPL's website. As always, ratings and reviews are welcome and appreciated.
October 4th, 2015
Great news -- I'm on Pinterest now, too!
Actually, this isn't news. I've been a dedicated Pinterest user since 2011, filling my imaginary closet with dozens of ensembles I'll never wear and planning trips I'll never take like the responsible pinner I am. What's new is I've finally found a way to put this multimedia goldmine to good use in my book marketing strategy.
I love books, but let's face it: they aren't the most visually scintillating media. That's where Pinterest comes in. Now, to my absolutely delight, I can supplement my storytelling with pictures, videos, and links. Don't think of it as a replacement for the trusty, old imagination, though; think of it as a way to add another layer of meaning to the story, and for you to see what I see (to an extent, anyway).
Curious? Here's the link: https://www.pinterest.com/jessingoldbooks/
September 4th, 2015
Greetings friends and fans,
After nearly a year of writing, rewriting, and revising, I'm thrilled to announce that Fate Unwritten (formerly Cowboy Heart) will be available for purchase through AMPL Publishing's website on October 15th, 2015. Links and additional details to follow.
Rather than writing a traditional post-publication blog, I've decided to try something a little different. So, from now until launch day, I'll be tweeting one-line excerpts and bite-sized anecdotes about my experience working with an up-and-coming publishing house. If you aren't already, I invite you to follow me on Twitter using the button on the sidebar. Alternatively, if you'd like to get in touch with me directly, you can do so at jessingoldbooks (at) outlook (dot) com.
My sincerest thanks and appreciation goes out to the dedicated team at AMPL Publishing. None of this would have been possible without their knowledge, insight, and seemingly limitless patience, and I look forward to continuing my publishing journey with them in the years to come.
And of course, many more thanks go out to you guys, my readers. Without you, this industry wouldn't exist.
August 3rd, 2015
Ever since I began sharing my writing with the world, I've been led to believe that a successful marketing campaign requires a strong social media presence. So, determined to establish myself as an author, I went ahead and joined every social media platform I could think of: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, you name it. Over the years I've gravitated towards certain channels and away from others, but my primary focus has always been the same: to build a following until I no longer need to introduce myself. From that moment on, everything I did -- every tweet, status update, review, blog, and link share -- was done with the intention of growing my fan base and fortifying my reputation as a social-media-savvy, up-and-coming young writer. I wanted to be popular, witty, and respectable -- the kind of person other people turned to for advice on managing their online presence.
But then, something changed. I was still a writer, only now I felt the need to prove it on a regular basis. I found myself scrambling for blog ideas, combing Quill & Quire for articles worth sharing, and generally obsessing over what I was going to say the next time I logged on to Twitter. I didn't want people to lose interest in me. Without a fan base, I can't sell books. And, if I can't sell books, what's the point in writing them at all?
In all this obsessing over what other people thought about me, and whether or not they took me seriously as a writer, I lost touch with my muse. In fact, I put so much pressure on myself to express my creativity on a routine basis that it became more and more difficult for me to articulate myself when it really mattered. As a result, I stopped blogging. I resorted to cliches and apologetic drivel in place of meaningful updates just so I'd show up in the #amwriting feed. I dropped off the Facebook radar completely, leaving the rest of my channels to deteriorate into creative wastelands. In all this mayhem I continued to write, only this time, I couldn't be sure if anyone was actually listening. I felt lonely, disconnected, and largely apathetic about the craft I'd fallen in love with long before I felt obligated to discuss it with the world. The magic was gone, and like releasing a proverbial genie from its bottle, I had no idea how to get it back.
As I write this, an iStock ad is playing to the right of my screen, prompting me to purchase credits at a discounted rate. As a society we've known about tailored ads for years, but it still feels unsettling to glance at this innocuous banner and see the handful of images I'd been browsing playing on a continuous loop. It's a subtle but profound reminder that nothing we do online goes unnoticed, and for this reason, I've decided to unofficially end my social media marketing campaign -- which means no more Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn updates unless it really, really matters. I've already deleted my profile on Goodreads and Instagram, and it's only a matter of time before I abandon Pinterest in favour of actual food and real-life travel. If the thought of having a wedding board when you aren't even engaged doesn't seem remotely bizarre to you, then you have yet to experience the epiphany that has prompted this long but terribly overdue update.
From now on, this website will be my command post: anything you need to know, or that I may feel tempted to share with you, will appear here and nowhere else. While I acknowledge that this greatly reduces my online footprint, I also take comfort in knowing that I will have more time to spend doing something I truly love: writing and living my life in the company of friends and family.
And now, I bid you adieu. Reality is calling and I must go.
For those of you who are still with me, I have only two words: thank you.
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July 1st, 2015
Happy Canada Day!
In honour of this beautiful country's 148th birthday, and as a token of my appreciation for your continued patience and support, I've uploaded a brief excerpt from my upcoming novel, Cowboy Heart. I hope you'll join me in revisiting Hannah and Ray's story, and hopefully figure out what it means to be young, in love, and undefined.
Also, seeing as the website is still a work-in-progress, I'd be open to hearing your suggestions for new content, which you can submit via email at the address provided above.
Thanks for visiting!