Second Book Syndrome

So I've started writing the sequel to Crow's Rest, tentatively entitled No Man's Land. Hooray for getting to spend more time in Avery's cluttered headspace!

But, like every book I've written, before I even started with the writing I was assaulted by doubts (which can all be boiled down to the fear "What if I've lost my mojo? Or what if I never had mojo and was able to delude myself up to this point???") and anxiety.

I've been able to quiet most of those with Plotting: I start with a 2-page synopsis, and then expand it into a more detailed outline (about 10 pages) from there. Then, if I've done the plotting correctly, writing the actual first draft feels like filling in the blanks.

That's overly simplified, of course, but it worked like a charm for Crow's Rest! The only new part in the equation is that No Man's Land will need to have its own arc, as well as fitting into the series arc.

It's kind of a pet peeve of mine if the middle book in a trilogy (though my books aren't a trilogy) feels more like a "to be continued" episode than a book that can stand on its own merits, so I'd really like to avoid that!

The best recent example I can think of for a 2nd book that stood on its own is The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson--loved how the main character continued to develop and grow, and the story did too. Any recommendations for other titles that fit the bill?

Crow's Rest is on Goodreads!

We don't have a cover yet, but Crow's Rest has a place on Goodreads! It was so thrilling to wake up to some activity on it: adds to Want to Read shelves, and even a few 5-star ratings! Whoohoo!

Yep, that's what it looks like for now, only with "Crow's Rest by Angelica R. Jackson " on it. But if you'd like to add it, you can find it at

Ireland Day 4

We started out going to Muckross House, which you are unfortunately not allowed to take pictures inside. But it does have an interesting connection to Empire Mine in Nevada City, California--the same family that owned the mine bought Muckross and its acreage for their daughter. They also were the family that owned Filoli, so they certainly have great taste in architecture and gardens! Here is a taste of Muckross:

That last picture cracks me up--do you see how the lion-dog-griffin creatures are sticking out their tongues?
Parts of the Muckross acreage are now Killarney National Park, and there are some gorgeous views there too

We rushed back to Kenmare to get there in time for the Seafari boat to see seals and sea eagles. No sea eagles on the day we went--plus it was so cold I couldn't feel my feet by the time we got back in port. And yes, I was wearing a balaclava, my snowboarding parka, jeans with tights underneath, and waterproof boots. Still damn cold! But we got lots of pics like these:

That last photo is obviously not a seal--it's the ruins of an ancient church as seen from the bay. We got to go there a few days later, so stay tuned for some pictures from the church ruins and burial ground.

After a long hiatus, the Mystery Agent contest is back on Operation Awesome. There is an added step now--a Rafflecopter to enter for a slot in the contest. This will allow overseas/international folks to enter, and save the Operatives from having to camp out on the computer to close out the contest, yay!

July's Mystery Agent is looking for manuscripts in these categories:

- Young Adult horror/thrillers

- Contemporary YA with a hook

- Speculative fiction

- All kinds of adult romance

- Picture books

So if you have a polished, ready-to-pitch query, go here and enter the Rafflecopter for your chance at a contest slot! Good luck!

First Three Days in Ireland

Our travel on May 5th got off to a rough start--we got up at 1:30 AM, out the door at 3:30, and onto the plane in Sacramento as scheduled.

Only to sit on the tarmack. Then the captain announced they were having a mechanical issue and everyone would be getting back off the plane. It was a race to be one of the first people to the ticket counter, to try to get another flight. We were probably about #30 in line, and it took us an hour to get to the front of the queue and be told that they could get us to Chicago, but no guarantees that we'd make our existing connecting flight.

Given the choice between staying overnight in an airport hotel in Chicago or our own bed, I voted for going back home and doing the entire thing all over again the next day. I went to bed at 5 PM that night (hubby didn't, which may be why I was ready to go in Ireland and he slept 18 hours straight of our first day there, ha) and was up at 1:30 on the 6th all over again.

And I discovered that airports are possibly the worse place in creation to try to eat with food allergies; fortunately, I'd come prepared with all kinds of bars to eat. I slept maybe 2 hours out of 24, but was mostly just bored. By the time we landed, I was feeling a bit queasy from hunger, so our first stop was kind of a blur. But thank goodness for pictures!

Bunratty Castle is quite near the Shannon airport so an easy way to kill some time since we couldn't check into our cottage in Kenmare (a few hours drive) until that afternoon. Bunratty has a folk museum, a collection of examples of cottages and homes taken from several counties, as well as a small village and pub. It rained on us off and on, but that's how we knew we were really in Ireland!

We arrived at our cottage that afternoon and so began the Great Sleep. It wasn't until late the next day that I was able to drag my husband out for a walk, and we discovered the neighborhood was full of newer holiday homes--but very tastefully done to blend in with old places like this one.

The next few days were spent shopping (groceries, yay!) and exploring the town. Love the paint on the buildings, and they even have an ancient stone circle outside of town.

And since we spent a fair amount of time in the cottage (had some really nasty storms in our time in Ireland), it's only fair to show you the view from Bar Cillatha (the holiday cottage we rented).

More to come from Ireland next week--if I don't get too bogged down with other projects, lol

Exmoor Ponies!

Be warned: the next several blog posts will be gushing accounts of our trip to Ireland and the UK!

I was a completely horse-crazy child (still am, but it's tempered with realities of being financially and emotionally responsible for a horse), so I was beyond excited to see Exmoor Ponies in their native habitat!

In fact, I was so excited that when we saw an entire herd of mares with brand new foals, I forgot to check my exposure in the camera. I think I've done that twice in my photographer's life! Those pictures came out overexposed, unfortunately, but with the magic of Photoshop I was able to salvage them somewhat.

The babies were so newborn that they were mostly sleeping--a rider on horseback spooked these mares enough that they rousted their babies and fled the field. There were about a dozen mares in this band--a few of them still hugely pregnant.

Earlier, we had stopped to take photos of an old church, and my husband called, "There's a horse up here with a baby." I thought he meant a regular horse, so took my time with photos in the graveyard. By the time I went up to the ridge, it was drizzling on the lone Mama Exmoor Pony and foal. She was doing her best to pretend that we weren't there, but otherwise wasn't too disturbed by our presence.

Her colt was eager to explore, but she kept calling him back if he got too far away. I think he's going to be a lively one!