Jessica Ingold

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AMPL Publishing's Best Review Contest

Posted by Jessica Ingold on November 3, 2017 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Hey guys!

So, I know it's been a while (two years, to be exact) since Fate Unwritten came out, but my publisher recently launched its Best Review Contest, and simply put, reviews sell books.

If you've already read Fate Unwritten and would like to leave a review, you can do so by visiting the book's page (link below) and clicking on 'Leave a Comment'.

If you haven't read Fate Unwritten, but think you might like to, I've posted a short excerpt below to help you make up your mind.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you think. And remember -- don't be afraid to be honest in your feedback. Honest reviews help authors become better writers.

Thanks, friends!

* * *

Panicked, Frank bolted from his position and tripped down the ditch, catching himself before he hit the ground. When the car was inches from striking him, George threw himself out of the way and onto the gravel shoulder, victorious.

The crowd exploded as the car braked frantically and swerved, generating an ear-piercing screech and leaving black streaks of rubber on the road. The stunned driver regained control in the right lane before continuing on his way, the vehicle’s tires still smoking.

Cameron turned to Hannah and grinned. “I could do it better,” he said as George climbed to his feet and brushed the gravel from his jeans.

“But you’re not going to.”

“No. But all the same…” He closed the distance between them and squinted at her. “You can’t still want to go home after seeing that.”

“Maybe I do.”

He sighed, exasperated as he took her hands and reeled her the short distance into his embrace. Hannah eyed George and Frank suspiciously as they shook hands and the mob of teenagers converged on them.

“Nothing happened. And nothing is going to happen.” Cameron said, glancing toward the crowd that had gathered behind them. “This is supposed to be fun, Hannah. Why ruin this night worrying about everything that could go wrong?”

* * *

Want to know what happens next? You can: http://www.amplbooks.com/bookpage/9

Getting Real about NaNoWriMo

Posted by Jessica Ingold on October 14, 2017 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Greetings, fellow word warriors!


As we head into one of the busiest writing months of the year, I wanted to take a few minutes to share a few things that I learned from last year’s NaNoWriMo. (Before I go on, I would like to remind everyone that I didn’t win. In fact, this year marks my second attempt at writing 50,000 words in 30 days, so you’d be well advised to take everything I say from this point forward with a grain.)


In order to help you remember these tips, I’ve come up with a handy acronym. Let’s call it GETS. Think you can slot that somewhere into your busy brain? Good. Now, let’s continue.


Give yourself realistic goals


NaNoWriMo recommends a minimum daily word count goal of 1,667. As ordinary human beings with busy lives outside of writing, you’ve probably realized, as I did, that this isn’t always possible. Schedules change. Kids get sick. Chores pile up. As much as we’d all like to win, it’s important to remember that the whole point of entering this competition is to make writing a habit. It’s about being accountable to your dreams. It’s about believing in your abilities. So be kind to yourself: if the best you can do is 300 words per day, it’s still better than nothing.


Edit later


I’m terribly guilty of editing as I write. Hell, I’ve been known to scrap entire chapters while on deadline (which, of course, renders said deadline redundant). But when you’re trying to churn out 50,000 words in 30 days, there’s very little—if any—time to edit. For now, just focus on putting words on the page. Once you get through these thirty, torturous days, you can spend the next 335 editing.


Track your progress


NaNo does this for you under the ‘Stats’ tab, but feel free to create a separate spreadsheet to monitor other, ‘softer’ metrics, such as the number of hours you spent crafting your outline, or the number of compliments you received on social media. Use said spreadsheet to avoid drowning in self-doubt.


Set boundaries


This includes your family, friends, and, yes—even yourself. NaNoWriMo is YOUR opportunity to realize YOUR dreams. When you’re on a deadline, every minute counts, so don’t let the people around you squander them needlessly (which is not to say that you should neglect your day-to-day obligations, of course, especially if there are pets and small children involved.) Also, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for needing time to write—or needing a break. As for setting boundaries with yourself, always remember: end the day on a high note, whether it’s 300 words or 3,000.


So, what do you think? Are you ready to write your novel?


Yes. Yes, you are.

The Spirit Catchers - Chapter 1

Posted by Jessica Ingold on April 20, 2017 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (2)

All things considered, my death was pretty boring.

Let me ask you something: when do people start thinking they’re going to live a long life? For me, it was around age ten. I wanted to be an oncologist. To this day I will never know what sort of divine influence planted that idea in my mind. All I know is that having cancer and treating cancer are as different as night and day.

I was nineteen when the first symptoms appeared. They started out small, as most things usually do: a bruise here, a nosebleed there. The fatigue was constant and immutable, mirroring my every move like a shadow until it became the darkness that swallowed me whole. Vial by vial my own compromised blood wrote the final chapter of my life, turning the page on everything I thought I’d have time to do. This is cancer: the thread that unravels the rug, interrupting the patterns of our lives and the tapestry of our expectations.

My attitude toward death had always been astoundingly cavalier. I never denied this possibility, even in the early days of my diagnosis when my body still responded to chemotherapy. I thought about death often and casually: between naps, during dinner, in the privacy of my bedroom on the rare occasion that I was home. Even then, I wanted to get it over with. I thought maybe it would be like hitting a reset button, and I’d wake up the next day feeling rejuvenated. But death doesn’t work like that. Maybe if it did, we could finally break the stigma of being breakable.

My prognosis had been predictably bleak. I was told I had six months to live, but could buy myself two or three more if I consented to undergoing experimental treatment. I refused, saying there was no point in delaying the inevitable—not even if it meant that someone, somewhere, might benefit from my extended suffering.

I didn’t get six months. Instead, I got four months, three weeks, five days, two hours, and seventeen minutes. My family didn’t think this was enough time to say goodbye. I, on the other hand, thought it was too much.

A few days before my death, a woman named Joy appeared at my bedside. Joy had sat in the corner of my hospital room, next to my mother, who’d been dozing on a cot and woefully oblivious to the lean but impeccably dressed woman who’d come to claim my soul. I thought I was dreaming, but in actuality, I was just dying.

On the first day, Joy didn’t speak. Instead, she studied me in the way one might study a Picasso or a Rembrandt, with care and polite curiosity. Having Joy around made me feel safe, and it wasn’t long before I began to welcome the sight of her blue dress in a world worn grey with despair. Joy was what most people would call a guardian angel, but there are no angels at The Establishment. It was one of the many myths I had to unlearn prior to making my transition. Collecting souls is both an art and a science, and requires far more than wings to achieve.

Enter the Spirit Catchers, a diverse cohort of supernatural entities tasked with escorting human souls to the hereafter. Truthfully, the title is a misnomer: most spirits go willingly, so catching is seldom required. Being terminally ill had all but left me helpless, so when the time came for me to vacate the cancer-ridden shell of my once youthful body, I had no choice but to do whatever was asked of me. This was good news for Joy, but not for my family, who did everything they could to keep the hope—and me—alive.

On the second day, I asked Joy to tell me more about The Establishment: if it had towering iron gates and lush, manicured lawns, or ostentatious wooden doors with heavy brass knockers, or marble staircases that vanished innocently into the clouds. Joy said there was none of that. I was disappointed, but far from surprised, especially given the utilitarian nature of The Establishment’s name.

On the third day, I was calling out to her in agony. Joy had materialized in her usual spot in the corner of the room the moment her name sprang from my lips. I begged to die. I pleaded with her until my whole body tingled with exhaustion. I cried until I couldn’t breathe, until I was woozy from a lack of oxygen and the lasting effects of whatever painkillers I’d been given to ease my misery. I wanted out. When Joy didn’t take me, it felt like betrayal. But as I now know, she was only following protocol. If I’d been a little stronger, perhaps I’d have asked about this, too.

Joy didn’t take me that day. She said I wasn’t ready yet. I begged anyway. In the midst of my protest, she’d approached my bed and laid a hand on my chest. Light emanated from her fingertips as she illuminated me, erasing the layers that stood between my spirit and the world I no longer belonged to: first the itchy cream sheets, then the dull blue gown, and finally my translucent skin. By this point my body was producing bruises like a garden produced flowers and it was becoming harder to ignore the presence of ribs or the absence of fat that normally concealed them.

Joy bent her bright red lips close to my ear. She was cold and smelled like the inside of my grandmother’s armoire, and it sent shivers of familiarity all the way down my aching spine.

“Ansel says not yet,” she whispered, chilling me to the core. “Soon.”

By the fourth day, I was ready to die. My life was over, and like discovering the blank page at the end of a book I’d stared into the overhead lights and wondered who was responsible for ending my story here. I expected Joy to tell me more about this being named Ansel, but she never did.

My family came to say goodbye at 10:23AM on September 4th, 2005. It was a long goodbye. My parents cried. My brother, who never cried, sobbed until he hyperventilated. And I just lay there, waiting for Joy, who was waiting for Ansel to give her the go-ahead to collect my soul. No one noticed the fair-skinned woman knitting placidly in the corner, because I was the only one who could see her.

When it was finally time to make the transition, Joy returned her knitting needles to her bag, smoothed the wrinkles out of her dress, and walked the short distance over to my bed. I didn’t look at her. I was too busy watching my family, who’d formed a prayer circle at the foot of my bed and were muttering tearful invocations under their breath.

“An odd habit, prayer is,” Joy had remarked, folding her arms. “But I suppose it’s par for the course: after all, this is your deathbed.”

“Maybe they’re hoping Ansel will change his mind.”

“Ansel doesn’t change his mind on much of anything. Can you imagine how complicated life would be if death was always second-guessing himself?” Joy then turned to me and smiled. “Ready?”

I nodded, the machine flatlined, and then everything I ever knew suddenly disappeared.

My name is Sarah Nicole Galloway, and my job is to help people die.


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