Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Stories: Briar Hill Road (Dort)

Here's my Monday Glee Book Story...
I've been moving old pictures into archival sleeves and I came across this one of my MIL, me and my oldest. (Yes, I've had lifelong Medusa hair.) It's one of my favorites.

I modeled the mother in Briar Hill Road after Dort. It was really my homage to her. She was a woman who built her life on doing for others. She took in a family member who needed care, she was a teacher, she was a friend...and most importantly she was a woman who was the heart of her family. My life was richer because of her. My family was stronger because she was a part of it.

After my FIL passed away, we made it a point to have her over a few times of week for dinner. Afterward, we'd play Scrabble. Dort was brilliant, BUT she had no idea of Scrabble strategy. So she lost. A lot. And it also turns out, Dort hated to lose. But every time she came over, she ask for a rematch. I think I loved her even more because of it. She was tenacious...something I hadn't realized before Scrabble. I still miss her.

To bring this back to Book Stories (my new blog reoccurring posts), my books are all fiction, but beneath the fantasy there's a core of truth. My truth. Things or people who inspire me. Things that amuse me. Questions I want to answer. Things I want to understand. I've spent my life in books...first as a reader, now as a writer. And each book I've read or written becomes a part of me. Each person who is part of my life impacts me as well. Some more than others. And that's worthy of some Monday Glee.

Have a great week, everyone! And thanks to all my new blog followers. Send me a message if there's something specific you'd like me to blog about.

And have some Monday Glee!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Book Stories: Nothing But Luck (it's free for St. Patrick's Day)

Nothing But Luck
One day I had an idea...and idea about a tiny grandma who cursed her family to bad weddings.  It made me laugh.  I wrote up up a proposal that ended up under my bed.  (Well, not literally under my bed, but tucked away.)  A few years later, I met an editor who asked if I had anything for her and I remembered some of my under-the-bed stories.

She was an editor for small niche publisher, Avalon Books.  They sold their books to primarily libraries.  She bought not just my WLVH Radio romances, but also my Everything But...series as well.  They were all lovely, hardback, library-bound volumes. I didn't make a ton of money, but those books introduced me to new readers...readers who fell in love with the main character, Nana Vancy.  The first three books are romances where Nana Vancy is trying to break that curse.  

After she broke the curse, there were three more books where she tried her hand at matchmaking with her two friends and sidekicks, the Silver Bells (Annabelle and Isabel...named after two of my grandmother "Nana's" friends).  Uh, she wasn't good at matchmaking.  And that's how the Everything But...series was born.  Just a casual conversation at a conference.

I thought that was it.  That I'd wrapped up the series.  I got word that Avalon was closing it's doors and a new publisher bought their backlist.  And that's when the series made a comeback.  Montlake books republished them all as ebooks...and last year they all came out as audiobooks

Well, to make a short story longer, to celebrate the Everything But... ebook release, I wanted to do something for readers.  So I wrote a trilogy of short stories. Nana Vancy has given up matchmaking people in the final book of the series, Everything But a Dog (those are my dogs on the cover!) and she's matchmaking pets to their new owners in the trio.  I tied them to holidays as well.  Nothing But Heart was a Christmas story.  Nothing But Love was a Valentine's story and Nothing But Luck...well, that's a St. Patrick's Day story and it's free for the next few days to celebrate one of my favorite holidays!  Yes, I have deep Irish roots and a mad love for Guinness.

So Sláinte!  

If you've read Nana Vancy before...thank you for making her one of my best-loved characters. Please pass on the free copy of Nothing But Luck to a friend.  If you haven't read her stories, pick up Nothing But Luck for yourself...and feel free to pass it on to friends!


(Nana Vancy cameos in
Christmas in Cupid 
, A Simple Heart and in Carry Her Heart.)  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Stories: Carry Her Heart

A quote from Carry Her Heart on a ceramic sculpture I made.
I was the invited guest at a book club meeting last night.  They'd read Just One Thing and were asking me questions about my writing and books.  One question was, are you each character? My answer was no.  To me, they're each individuals...real at least in my head.  And if I do things right, hopefully they're real to you as well as you read their books.

But there are autobiographical tidbits in every book and every character.  In Carry Her Heart, Pip is a Kindergarten Story lady in the book.  I did that for years.  I loved it.  I shared family favorites like the out-of-print Wild Baby Book and Where the Wild Things Are.  And towards the end of the year, I'd read them their first chapter book, Wolf Story.  Oh, how I loved watching them fall into the stories.  

I was talking to an education major at school the other day and mentioned my new favorite kids' books, Ada Twist Scientist, Iggy Peck Architect and Rosie Revere Engineer.  I love how they put STEM into a form that kids not only understand, but get excited by.  And of course, there's The Book With No Pictures.  If you ever are planning to read to young kids, any book that uses the word butt is sure to be a hit!

So as you read Carry Her Heart and hopefully its sequel, Hold Her Heart, you'll see pieces of me in those children's stories.  And of course, you'll see my love of Erie in the setting and maybe...  Well, I'm there in the book, even if it's fiction.

Check out Carry Her Heart...


PS Someone asked where they could find all my videos.  I park them all on YouTube.  All the Book Trailers, Ask the Author and Cooks and Books.  

You can subscribe to my YouTube Channel, or you can simply subscribe to this blog...I post them all here as well.

AND if you have any questions you'd like me to answer for Ask the Author...send them to me at HollyJacobs1 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

On Failure...My Novel Freshman Experience

I spent my freshman spring break in the studio...well, I spent as much time as I could there.  More than most weeks.  I love having the studio to myself.  I made some more Santas, a set of mugs, and tried some birds and chicks.  And I tried a bunny.  He wasn't awful, but he wasn't a success.  No, since he wasn't really what I wanted, I guess he was a failure.  Oh, he was rabbit-esque enough that I'm keeping him and playing with glazes on him.  But I wasn't happy.  

I spent last night sketching other rabbits...trying to understand how they go together.  I am not great with sketching and may take a class on basic drawing sometime.  But anyway, it was enough for me to start to see how the rabbit can be formed.

And today I tried another one.  The one on the right is the one that's ready to fire...the one I'm not happy with.  The one on the left might not look any better, but he actually is.  I put him together and need to let him sit for a day or so in order for all those pieces to come together, but the shape of him is better.  And his eyes are much better than they look right now!  LOL 

One of the things these Ceramic classes have reminded me is that it's okay to fail.  I have learned that lesson in the past.  Being a writer means I get reminded from time to time.  But Ceramics makes the idea of failing so much more tangible.  I can when something doesn't work and I can see my progress from one piece to the next.  

I think that people forget that failure can be a good thing.  No, I'm not going to tell you that it makes you a better person, but it can inspire you. It can push you.  And when you make a rabbit—or whatever it is you're trying—there's that amazing sense of accomplishment.  

I'll post pics of the finished rabbits later.  But it was a good day in the studio.  I mulled about the new book I'm working on, and mulled how much I hate the time change (did you Spring forward?) and thought about how failures can lead to success.

I hope your next week is filled with success...but if a failure or two sneak in, I hope they inspire you!!


PS Briar Hill Road is out!  I hope you'll pick up a copy!! 

Friday, March 09, 2018

This is Me...part two

Yesterday, I posted this poem on my social media and I talked about This is Me as part of International Women's Day...and talked about some of the things that make up who I am.  But I'm more than those things I've become myself...I'm all the people who came before me.

I've been working on my family tree off and on for a few years.  On my mom's side, I come from pre-revolution New England.  My father's side has just as deep history, but from down south.  His family came from the mountains in Virginia, down to North Carolina, then back up to West Virginia.  I am a northern girl through and through, and find this deep southern part of my history fascinating.  One of my favorite books last year was Victuals.  I tend to read cookbooks like novels, and this book had a mini novel in amongst the recipes...stories from the mountains my family came from.  I read about sorghum in that book and a lovely friend, Tami, sent me some. I so enjoyed trying it became one of my Cooks and Books videos.  You can watch it here.  

I was doing some research for my family tree and stumbled across a documentary by NC State called Mountain Talk and watched it today. I was fascinated by the stories about their speech and the music.  This is my heritage.  These are my people.  I think I miss the mountains, even if I've never lived there. 

One of the words that really struck me in the documentary was poke. A shopping bag.  I love that.  And of course, watching the documentary, made me do a bit more research (the trap of every writer...I can get lost in this stuff) and found a fun blog, Blind Pig and an Acorn.  I read an article about pokes there, and am now subscribed.  Yes, I'm falling down the rabbit hole...again.

Before I knew about my heritage, I loved mountain stories.  Do you remember Foxfire Books?  I've got more than a few.  I love to pull one out and read a story about someone's life.

Maybe this is part of why I write.  I get to explore other people's lives and pasts and the pieces of themselves that are there This Is Me definitions.  Because yes, I am part of my wonderful family, a friend, a writer, an amateur potter, a... so many other things.  I am all of them.  But I am my parents' daughter, and their parents' granddaughter...right on down the line. 
I come from a wide rich heritage and that is part of who I am.  And that's what I try to give each character I write.  That kind of history.  Briar Hill Road is a story that deals with more than a couple falling in's about their lifetime of love.  Their ups and downs.  And it's about their history. 
Yes, this is where one documentary led me today!  Down the rabbit hole again.  LOL

I hope you'll join me on a journey down Briar Hill Road and maybe check out some Mountain Talk?! 


Thursday, March 08, 2018

This Is Me

I love this song from The Greatest Showman. 
It's a lesson more of us need to learn. 
It seems appropriate to talk about this on International Women's Day. 
Let's talk about who we are. 
Welcome to #ThisIsMe...the Holly edition.

I am a Woman.
I am part of an amazing family.
I am a friend.
I've been bruised, but I have healed.
I am all the books I've ever read...or written.
I believe in something greater than myself.
I am Gleeful.
I am Clay-Happy.
I am a Solitude Loving Camp Lover.
I am a Wood Splitter.
I'm a shower singer.
I am a Baker.
I am a Cook.
I am Weird.
I am a lover of odd science facts (Schrodinger, Pi Day...).
I am a lover of Buffalo Plaid.
I am curious, inventive, self-motivated and introspective.
Despite what people think, at heart I'm an introvert.
I believe in justice.

I try to see people for who they are, not how they're packaged.
I am so much more than all this...

"I'm not scared to be seen...I make no apologies.  This is me."

Who are you?


And while you're thinking about This is Me, here's a mash-up of it with Dear Evan Hansen's You Will Be Found...amazing!

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

March Newsletter

A reader, Cindy Carlson, wrote this song for Briar Hill Road.  
There's a clip in the can listen to the whole song here.


Every story I write comes from my heart, but some are closer to it than others.  Briar Hill Road is that.  We lost my mother-on-law to breast cancer, and all these years later, our family still feels her loss.  I used to joke with my husband that if he divorced me, he could keep the house and kids and I'd keep his mom.  LOL I wrote Briar Hill Road as an homage to one of the finest women I've ever known.  Yes, it's fiction, but it's fiction with a layer of truth in truth.  I hope you'll check it out!

Lucky people are born into their families,
but some have to find them.

Hayden MacNulty found her "real" family a few houses down Briar Hill Road while trick-or-treating when she was eight. She fell a little in love with twelve-year-old Brian Conway that very night. Time and tragedy tests that love, but over the years Brian and Hayden discover that real love can weather the harshest storms and still bloom beautiful and strong. Hayden and Brian's story is at its heart a love story about family...about forgiveness…about acceptance...about life on Briar Hill Road.

A Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award Winner

"Holly Jacobs' The House on Briar Hill Road is extremely affecting and honest, and Brian and Hayden's complicated relationship is handled very well." --Catherine Witmer. Romantic Times

Buy Briar Hill Road

I'm still blogging about going back to school...

Yes, I'm now in Ceramics II and still loving the experience.  I've been writing about My Novel Freshman Experience on my blog.  I love talking about how art and writing overlap.  Not just writing. Art impacts, enhances and alters our perspectives on life.  I've also added a new reoccurring series of blogs posts called Book Stories.  I talk about how different books came about, what inspired and helped craft them.  You can check out and follow my blog at Holly Jacobs'—Hollyworld.  

Yes, that's me.  

Erie had a record snowfall in December.  In addition to word-ing and clay-ing, I spent a lot of time shoveling. Erie is winning the Golden Snow Globe with 167 inches of snow this year.  Geesh!

I've got a busy few months coming up...

I'm heading to Philadelphia and Syracuse to speak, and I'm visiting a few more bookclubs around Erie.  Plus I'll be spending a lot of time this summer at our Cottage.  We've spend the last year renovating.  It's really coming together.  Check out my tour of the downstairs here.

There're are more books, more school adventures, more...well, glee coming up!  As always thanks for all your support!  I hope you'll check out Briar Hill Road.


PS You can have my newsletter delivered to your mailbox. Sign up here.