Category Archives: Books

Local author gets creepy and dreamy

By Stacey Doud

Jackie 022620

Today, I had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with local author Jacqueline E. Smith. She is the author of the four (soon to be five) Cemetery Tours series of books, as well as the four Boy Band book series, aimed at young adults.

Smith was born and raised in Dallas and is now living in Richardson. She has been writing, in the form of fan fiction or short stories, since she was very young.

“I have written for fun my entire life. It started when I was in preschool, and it was drawing little Disney books which I still have. I made them on construction paper and then stapled them together,” Smith said.

Shortcut“I remember the first book that made me feel real emotions and I thought, ‘This is cool. This can transport me.’ The name of the book was Shortcut by Donald Crews. It was about these kids that take a shortcut home along the railroad tracks, and they kept hearing a[n] [invisible] train. I thought it was so creepy and cool and I loved it. I was only three or four at the time.

“A few years later, the Harry Potter books came out. By the fifth book, it was the summer before my freshman year in high school. My parents were both working and left me in charge of my sister, who is seven years younger than me, so I just read Harry Potter over and over again. Of course, I couldn’t wait for the sixth book, so I just started writing Harry Potter fan fiction. That’s what really got me back into writing.”

Smith attended University of Texas at Dallas (UT-D) and earned her bachelor’s degree in Art and Performance as well as a master’s degree in Humanities. When she was a junior [undergrad], she got sick “again. I feel like everything in my life goes back to when I was engulfed in germs,” she said.

“I spent the entire Spring Break on the couch that year, and I was just so bummed. I wanted to go out and have adventures and fun. But I was stuck on the couch, so I started reading a bunch of romance novels that I bought at Half-Price Books. I started thinking to myself, ‘I could do this!’ It wasn’t even one of those epiphanies. It was just the thought that I could do this,” Smith said. She didn’t let anything stand in her way, as she went on to get her master’s degree in Humanities from UT-D.

Smith has had a life-long dream to work with animals and to take photos, but “there’s not a lot of money in traveling around and taking pictures.’ So, I had to find a way to make money. I thought, ‘well maybe I can write books and make money!’ Granted, that was not a solid plan because you really don’t make a lot of money in this industry. But at the time, it seemed like a solution,” Smith explained.

Smith says she prefers “indie [independent] writing” to working with publishers because the author keeps all of their rights, content, characters, etc. “Plus, I am not a good group writer. I am more the ‘leave me alone to write,’ kind of author. Of course, I have great editors, like my sister, to help me. She will tell me like it is and not try to sugarcoat it. That’s what I need,” she said.

As for her interest in the paranormal, Smith explained, “I’ve always loved ghosts. My mother raised us really celebrating Halloween, so I’ve always loved spooky things.”

She has also had a few paranormal experiences.

Smith Headstone

Photo Courtesy of Jacqueline E. Smith

“My favorite experience was when I was taking a historical tour in The Colony, and we were in a cemetery. Most of the graves were situated around the front. And so, I was just walking around and taking some pictures, like I love to do. There was this tree off to the side, and it kept ‘calling me over.’ I kept thinking, ‘what’s with this tree? I don’t really need to go over there.’ But I finally did [go to the tree] and it turned out that there was a broken tombstone beneath the tree with my initials [JES] carved into it. My stomach dropped. It was the creepiest thing to have happened to me so far,” Smith explained.

Smith ended up penning the first Cemetery Tours book in 2010 to deal with the loss of a beloved pet. “It affected me so bad. I started getting headaches and got a rash,” she recalled. “I was so sad in the days following. [The cat] was my baby! I started watching 16 and Pregnant, believe it or not. When that was over, I started flipping through the channels and landed on Ghost Adventures. That show actually got me through the grief and gave me the idea for Cemetery Tours, which also helped with the sadness. “I was in such a state of distress. In fact, I think that’s what triggered my mental illness”.

Smith currently experiences Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She can’t have her food touch on a plate, has to eat in a certain order and can’t eat unless she is expecting to eat. She also has trouble with even minor schedule changes. She is an advocate for the awareness and treatment of mental illnesses and shares her story regularly.

Smith says that there is a Book Five of Cemetery Tours waiting to be written. “I have not written it yet because it’s going to hurt. Something that Michael has dealt with in this whole series is that he can see ghosts that are still in this realm, but he has no idea what happens after. There may be more exploration of what may be beyond this life.”

Trashy RomanceRight now, Smith is working on a book titled Trashy Suspense Novel. She already has published Trashy Romance Novel, since her friends told her that no one can make money unless they write a trashy romance novel. Not one to mince words, Smith has named these two books for exactly what they are. “I like the names because if someone doesn’t like it, I can tell them that they knew what they were getting into…a trashy book!” The romance novel has won several awards, one which was for humor. “I like that I can be funny, and I pride myself on it, so that award meant a lot to me.”

Also, on the horizon, looms a potential independent film of the Boy Band series, to be produced by a Dallas director Jalitza Delgado. This topic will be the focus of a podcast called “Coffee Talk with Chelle” this Sunday (3/1) at 8pm CST. “We are in the fundraising stage right now,” Smith said.

Interested parties may donate to her project via GoFundMe HERE and can listen to the podcast to learn more about the project HERE.

To take a peek at Amazon’s page for Jackie, click HERE.

I know that I am personally looking forward to reading all of the Cemetery Tours books. I am on Chapter 3 of the first book, and it is tough to put down! So, thank you, Jackie, for your imagination, talent and honesty!

Chance Westlake Starbucks meeting spurs friendship, book

By Suzanne Majors Davis, Contributing writer

newsEngin.22650527_DOMINANT

Lane Orsak (left) and David Griffin (Photo: SUZANNE MAJORS DAVIS)

Local writer Lane Orsak is a warm, gregarious guy who knows everyone by name at his favorite Starbucks in the Westbank Market. This camaraderie led him to the topic of his sixth, recently published book, “Dylan’s Divide.”

It’s the story of a character named Dylan Griffith, a Texan who joins the Army to serve his country in Afghanistan and returns questioning the value of his mission and course of his life.

The tale is partially based on experiences of David Griffin, a 29-year-old Marble Falls man who was the roommate of Orsak’s Starbucks barista he identifies only as Mikey. He introduced the two at the coffee house.

Read more from The Statesman…

Brazoria County Library System schedules annual book sale

The Brazoria County Library System will hold its annual book sale Thursday evening, July 30 and all day Friday, July 31 and Saturday, August 1 at the Angleton Library, a branch of Brazoria County Library System, in Angleton.

Starting Thursday, July 30 from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., the public can find and buy books covering various topics for bargain prices. Most books sell for one dollar or less.

The sale Friday, July 31 starts at 9:00 a.m. and will continue until 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, August 1, the hours will be the same. The sale includes outdated items removed from library shelves over the past five months. Donated books from the public are also available. These materials are gathered and sold to the public to dispose of the property. There will be fiction, nonfiction, videos, audiocassette tapes and children’s books. Since space at the Angleton Library is limited, additional books are always added to the sale. Since the library has boxes and boxes of books to sell; the inventory is constantly changing. For this reason, people should come back and see what new books are available.

Money raised during the book sale is used by the County Library Board to benefit the branches. The money also helps the branches pay for performers during the summer reading program.

Volunteers are also needed to help with the book sale set-up that takes place Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

The Angleton Library is located at 401 E. Cedar Street.

For more information or to volunteer, call Library Administration and ask for Lisa Gay.

In the west or central areas of the county, call 979-864-1505. In the Brazosport area, dial 979-388-1505. In the northern part of the county, call 281-756-1505.

Brazoria County Museum to host Texas author

PRESS RELEASE

554a5f89dd40d.imageJoin us at the Brazoria County Museum Thursday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m. as author Dr. Paul Spellman presents and signs copies of his book, Old 300: Gone to Texas.

This book chronicles the story of 300 families who made their way from all across the United States and four countries to settle in Austin’s Colony in Mexican Texas. An in-depth, personal look at the families, this adventure considers why they came to Texas, how they got here, and what they shared together in the early years. Most of their stories begin a decade before their arrival on the banks of the Colorado and Brazos Rivers, from action during the War of 1812, through the early Texas filibusters and expeditions, and under the guidance of Moses Austin and his son Stephen F. Austin. It is a story of courage and sacrifice, dangers and tragedy, dedication to a dream and desire for a fresh beginning. The story is diverse and filled with unexpected surprises for both traveler and reader. There are American Indians resisting the settlers, pirates on the prowl, earthquakes and hurricanes and deadly floods taking their toll. These first mostly Anglo settlers included large families, young newlyweds, and single men in commercial partnerships, widows and widowers, the very young and the very old. Some brought slaves, some came destitute, and some came rich and eager. There were the scurrilous and the fugitives among the lot, all collectively signing on to Austin’s Colony as the iconic Old 300.

Author Dr. Paul Spellman teaches Texas History at Wharton County Junior College. He is an Old 300 descendant and resides on the banks of the historic Brazos River with his wife Kathleen. With degrees from Southwestern University, SMU, UT-Austin, A&M-Corpus, and PhD from University of Houston, he is author of eight books on Texas History.

Come discover the founding of Texas and the history that is Brazoria County. The museum is located at 100 East Cedar, Angleton. Admission is free, books will be available for purchase.

Website: http://bchm.org/

Pearland Author to Hold Book Signing on April 4

551c2c4b01c79.imageCountry Place resident Robert Johnston has been invited to do a book signing of the new edition of his work, “Sanctification: A New Beginning, A New Life,” at Barnes and Noble, located at 7626 Westheimer Rd. in Houston on April 4 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“Sanctification” is an “in-depth study of 2 Peter 1:3-7 [that] shows us that even though the church takes a leadership role in discipleship, it is only Christ who imparts the divine nature that bears fruit in His disciples.

“Knowing his death to be imminent, the apostle Peter was impressed by the Hold Spirit to leave a message to all believers concerning the essence of the new life Christ gives to us. Peter shows us that the qualities of this new life increasingly abound as we grow in the personal knowledge of Christ.

“Sharing with us Peter’s insights for developing strength and boldness, Robert Johnston leads us, in Sanctification, a New Beginning, a New Life, to the same spiritual highway traveled by the original disciples as they progressed from infancy to maturity in their walk with Christ,” according to the website.

“Johnston was born in 1936 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma in the home of his uncle Monroe Johnston near the end of the great depression era.

“He graduated from West Texas University in 1964 and became a Certified Public Accountant in 1966, practicing in that profession for over 40 years.

“He left the field of accounting in 1987 to attend Jimmy Swaggart Bible College, known at the time as ‘The West Point of Bible Colleges,’ which name he believes is well deserved for its quality of education and discipline.

“He was called from his college pursuits to a ministry of teaching at a Christian Television station in Burlington, N.C. which was staffed by wonderful, dedicated Christians. He considers this time of Bible college and Christian ministry in a Christian environment as one of the most wonderful times in his life when he truly discovered what ‘brotherly love’ means.

“When the Christian Television station was sold he returned to the CPA profession in Texas and resolved to run his business according to tried and true Christian principles and also hosted weekly bible studies with business and professional men in his office for over twelve years before he retired.

“He continues today with his research strengths in Bible research and writing, fully understanding that those who teach are held to a higher standard when it comes to the truth in the gospel message,” according to his biography.

Johnston is also the author of “The Last Trumpet: The Mystery of God Is Finished and a New Age Begins,” which was published in 2010.

For more information, please email the author at bob.sandy.johnston@gmail.com.

Both books are available for purchase on Amazon.com.

Best-Selling Author to Speak at Friendswood Library

ShollyColonel Robert H. Sholly, USA (Ret.) author of the award-winning book, “Young Soldiers Amazing Warriors: Inside One of the Most Highly Decorated Battalions of Vietnam” will speak about his first tour in Vietnam at the Friendswood library located at 416 South Friendswood Dr. on Thursday (Feb. 26) from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

“Young Soldiers Amazing Warriors” is based on journals the author kept during his first combat tour in Vietnam and eye-witness accounts of survivors. It has reached the No. 1 Best Seller position on Amazon Kindle and has won 20 national awards, including a Grand Prize, since its publication in February 2014.

The story recounts day-to-day operations in the Central Highlands of Vietnam in 1966-67. Humor is mixed with the difficulties of mountainous terrain, wild animals and vegetation. Included in the account are stories about unexpected animals, ferocious firefights and awe-inspiring actions of young men just out of high school, who are heroes in the making.

Sholly gives accounts from his men’s perspective which are exciting, intriguing and memorable. Numerous individual citations were awarded to soldiers for their bravery and valor.

In addition to other awards and decorations in an unheard of 60-day period, four men were awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest honor, while five other soldiers were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award.

Colonel Sholly will be available to sign books after his presentation.

Additional information on the book and the author may be found on Amazon.com and at YoungSoldiersAmazingWarriors.com.

Brazoria County Library System Book Sale Jan. 29 – 31

The Brazoria County Library System will hold its annual book sale Thursday evening, January 29 and all day Friday, January 30 and Saturday, January 31 at the Angleton Library, a branch of Brazoria County Library System, in Angleton.

Starting Thursday, January 29 from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., the public can find and buy books covering various topics for bargain prices. Most books sell for one dollar or less.

The sale Friday, January 30 starts at 9:00 a.m. and will continue until 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, January 31, the hours will be the same. The sale includes outdated items removed from library shelves over the past five months. Donated books from the public are also available. These materials are gathered and sold to the public to dispose of the property. There will be fiction, nonfiction, videos, audiocassette tapes and children’s books. Since space at the Angleton Library is limited, additional books are always added to the sale.

There will be boxes and boxes of books to sell. Therefore, the inventory is constantly being updated. So people should come back and see what’s available that wasn’t there before.

Money raised during the book sale is used by the County Library Board to benefit the branches. The money also helps the branches pay for performers during the summer reading program.

Volunteers 16 years of age or older are also needed to help with the book sale set-up that takes place Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

The Angleton Library is located at 401 E. Cedar Street.

For more information or to volunteer, call Library Administration and ask for Lisa Gay.

In the west or central areas of the county, call 979-864-1505. In the Brazosport area, dial 979-388-1505. In the northern part of the county, call 281-756-1505.

Silvercrest Elementary PTA November News

21

Silvercrest PTA

This November we are giving thanks for our wonderful school and we are definitely grateful for all of our great teachers, staff, students and parents! Go Stallions!

PTA General Meeting

Please take note that our next general meeting will take place on Thursday, November 13th 2014, at 6.30pm in the school cafeteria. Our PTA does great work and we look forward to seeing old friends and new, so come along and find out how the PTA works on behalf of our school.

PTA Membership

Please remember to join our PTA! We are so proud of the number of parents who get involved, but there’s always room for more! If you would like more information, please contact Allison Byman at adbyman@yahoo.com. At Silvercrest we enjoy being part of the local community and we also welcome any community members who would like to participate in our PTA. Please visit the PTA website silvercrestpta.org for more information. To join, simply stop by the front office at Silvercrest or contact Allison for details on joining by mail.

Fall Spirit Nights

Silvercrest families, save these dates for Fall fun! Spirit nights are so important in raising funds and a really easy way for you to contribute. Eat at the restaurants below on the date listed, and the restaurants will kindly donate funds back to our school. We will remind you of these Spirit Nights by sending home flyers in your students’ folders, listing them on the marquee, and through our school website. Please note that there are a couple of date changes and be sure to visit the locations between the times listed so Silvercrest benefits! Come and join in, it’s terrific seeing Silvercrest friends and enjoying great food!

  • Nov 4 – Big Horn BBQ (11am-9pm only)
  • Nov 18 – Panera Bread (6-8pm only)
  • Dec 4 – Papa Johns Pizza
  • Dec 16 – Marco’s Pizza

Community Outreach / Food Drive

Time to give something back to the wonderful community we live in. Our annual food drive benefiting the Pearland Neighborhood Center will kick off on Monday, November 3rd and continue through Friday, November 14th. The grade level that brings in the most items will be honored with a fun and healthy snack. More information will be sent home soon and we hope you will support this very worthwhile cause.  If you have questions please contact Shelley Waguespack, Community Outreach Chair, at 713-436-9364 or email at sandswaguespack@yahoo.com.

AR Store

If your child has signed up to take part in the Accelerated Reader program, they will be getting a chance to exchange the points they have earned from taking quizzes on books they have read at school for some exciting prizes! Each class will get the chance to go to the AR store on Tuesday, November 18th. This is a fantastic way to encourage a love of reading in our students and they certainly love getting rewarded for all their hard work! We also need volunteers to help run the AR Store, it’s a very busy day but lots of fun, please contact Jen Stringfellow at jenstring95@hotmail.com for more information.

Book Fair

We just love encouraging our students to enjoy reading here at Silvercrest and one of the highlights of our reading activities comes with our Book Fair, this year to be held November 10th– 12th from 7:30am-2:30pm and November 13th from 7.30am – 6.30pm. This is a great opportunity for our students to buy some fantastic new books and they really enjoy sharing the experience with their classmates. During the weeks leading up to the Book Fair the children will be watching a video during their class library time and will be bringing home a Book Fair flyer before it begins, so look out for this in your child’s folder. The children can then write their wish lists of which books they would like to purchase.

Your child’s teacher should be able to let you know when their class will be visiting the Book Fair, and there is also the option for parents to come in before school and shop with their child. Alternatively parents can come after school and shop with the students until 6.30pm on Thursday, 13th November for the late night (and then why not stay for the PTA meeting right after?). Please note that unfortunately parents cannot pull their child out of class to shop but they can also come to school and shop with their child during their class’s time at the Book Fair which is another great way to share the experience and help your child to select from the huge number of titles and other items we have. Hope to see you all there!

Texas Non-Profit Literacy Organization Announces 59 Distinguished Young Authors

PHS student Lindsey Kinane

PHS student Lindsey Kinane

On Saturday, Nov. 1 at 9 a.m., the Houston nonprofit literacy organization, READ3Zero, will honor students nationwide at a memorable Luncheon and Book Signing event for this year’s winners of the “I Write” contest and celebrate the organization’s fifth anniversary.

The Awards Ceremony will offer individual recognition in the form of a certificate of excellence to each student author and illustrator followed by the Literacy Luncheon and Book Signing with keynote speaker, Neil Bush, chairman to the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation, emceed by Deborah Duncan of Great Day Houston.

The luncheon will be held at the Hilton Americas located at 1600 Lamar Street, Houston, Texas, 77010.

“This year we will offer a majestic experience to our young authors at a luncheon specially created to commemorate their success,” said Melissa M. Williams, Children’s Author and Founder of READ3Zero. “For five years our foundation has helped young students become published authors, and we can’t wait to celebrate with the city of Houston, parents, literacy advocates, and more; the commitment we have for students and their development in reading and writing.”

The Editor’s Choice Recipient this year will read their short story or poem to the audience followed by a book signing in which all the authors and illustrators will sign their newly published books. This event is scheduled to close at 1 p.m.

Founded in 2009 by children’s author and public speaker, Melissa M. Williams, READ3zero has embarked on a mission to help share aspects of the literacy and publishing world, influencing the lives of children to learn outside the classroom.

One of the primary creative projects at READ3Zero is the annual short-story contest, which emphasizes the concept that reading and writing go hand in hand. Children are also allowed to submit drawings for the front and back cover of the book.

“I’m excited about recognizing this outstanding group of students this fall. It’s amazing what can happen when the community rallies around our youth to encourage creativity and literacy,” said Williams.

Organizations, businesses and community members are able to help fund the efforts of READ3Zero by contributing support for future projects. Information regarding ways to support READ3Zero and the “I Write” Contest and other programs can be found on the organization’s homepage: www.READ3Zero.org.

This anthology is available for purchase to the public using standard publishing channels, such as bookstores, direct purchase through the foundation: READ3Zero and online retailers, such as Amazon.com.

Pearland High School student Lindsey Kinane will be among the student authors honored. For more information, click here.

Source: Pearland Journal

UWBC Book Drive Until August 11

UBCBookDrive“Being able to hand a child a book of their own was an overwhelming experience, both for us and the children. Seeing their faces when they realized the books were for them to take home was very moving.” – Debbie Pennington, Economic Development Alliance for Brazoria County and Board President at UWBC.

HELP PUT A SMILE ON A CHILD’S FACE BY DONATING TO UWBC’S BOOK DRIVE!