Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Top Ten Writing Resources

Photo by Jaclyn Bartz
It has been three years since I started writing professionally. Writing and drawing have always been hobbies of mine, and now I have finally taken this brave step forward. Through the years and the difficulties, I had learned a lot and remained persistent. This blog is written with my past experiences in mind and the intent to help you grow as well. Being an aspiring author starts with the desire to write; but not necessarily the knowledge on how to do it. It takes a lot of ambition and desire to follow this path. The road is paved with failures and doubts; but, remember, there is no success without it.  As I transition from being a writer to an author, there are many things that have helped me along the way. The following list is a compilation of my favorite resources. Please take a look. I hope you find these useful. Good luck on your journey.

1. The Dictionary &  The Thesaurus
Plain and simple--these are by far the most valuable books to have. I use them daily. They are really great for looking up the meanings of words and for eliminating redundancies.
2. YouTube
This site is loaded with information. I have looked up all different topics--from writing author bios to marketing. Anything you are wondering about is located on this site. And there are many experts willing to share the inside of the business with you.
3. LinkedIn
Another great source for information and a place to connect with like-minded individuals. I believe the only way to succeed in your chosen career is by asking for mentoring from other professionals. They have gone through different experiences and their knowledge is valuable. As I have stated in an earlier post, they are willing to help you if you ask. Don't be afraid to reach out because they were once in your shoes and have fretted over the same fears. They are also passionate, just like you.  
4. Self-Help
Yes, self-help. Confidence is key in this field. Self-doubt ruins many potential artists from reaching their dreams. In fact, it stops them dead in their tracks. Having the confidence to talk in public or to strangers or other professionals is the greatest trait you can have. There are many self-help books, videos, etc. to help guide you through your fears. Again, YouTube is a great source for free self-help videos. My favorite speaker is Brian Tracy.
5. Social Media
Facebook and Twitter are a great way to connect with friends, fans, and professionals. These sites are wonderful for sharing tidbits about yourself, providing information on things you care most about, and, of course, promotion. When I use these sites, I like to share fun things and tips I find around the internet. I like my pages to show my commitment to learning and my fun sense of humor. These pages should be reflective of your unique personality and it should be relatable to your audience. 
6. Writing Children's Books for Dummies by Lisa Rojany Buccieri and Peter Economy
I am a children's book writer, so this book was a valuable one for me. Naturally, if you are writing adult fiction, then this will not be the book for you. On a serious note, I love the content this book contains. It goes over everything from storyboarding to illustrating. It explains effective dialogues and character development. It also includes creative writing exercises. This book is a great starting point. 
7. 2014 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market by Chuck Sambuchino
Do you need more information about this market? If so, this book is a great resource for finding out more about it. This provides great insight on the publishing market, including agents, contests, and conferences. This helps with prepping manuscripts, writing query letters, and some very valuable contact info for industry leaders. This book is specifically for the children's market; if you are looking for another genre, then look at the other collections in the series. They have some tailored for only writers, graphic designers, etc.
 8.  The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
What do you do after you write your book? How are people going to be aware your book even exists? Well, this is where the scariest phase of being an author starts. (And, yes--this makes me really nervous.) Marketing, of course! This book I really like because it is tailored for beginners with limited budgets--which I am. Ms. Carolyn does a wonderful job explaining the ins-and-outs of book marketing, while helping to calm those crazy nerves we all experience. Her writing style is equivalent to having a conversation with a close friend. This is my personal favorite. Of course, you want to look for a marketing book that fits your needs, but please check this one out. You won't be disappointed.
9. CreateSpace
This site is loaded with information about writing, editing, and publishing--regardless of the publishing route you are choosing to take. CreateSpace is a part of Amazon; so if you do pursue self-publishing, this is a great way to get your book out into the mass market. This is a must to check out. I am sure you will find something you like.  
10. TypingWeb.com
Why a typing course? Well, if you are like me--a terrible typist, who is lucky to do 10wpm--then this is a valuable ((free)) resource to get this essential skill up to speed. I love this because it shows how well you are progressing and it is easy to use. The courses are laid out in a logical format--starting from the home rows keys to typing words. Overall, it has helped me type my handwritten manuscripts faster on my computer than I could if I still used my "two-finger peck".

There it is, my list of favorites. If you have any favorites you would like to share, please feel free to comment below. Feedback is always welcome. Peace and love!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Coming Soon: The Puzzle

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to announce my four week blog series titled "The Puzzle". This is my personal story about my journey becoming a writer. Many people know what they aspire to be, unfortunately, my journey wasn't so clear. The signs were spaced out along my path, and it took hardship and pain to get where I am today. I look forward to sharing a piece of me with you. Stay tuned!


In the meantime, feel free to visit my Facebook pages:


The Lady with the Crazy Hair

There she stood. Her wiry, unwashed hair was strewn on top of her head in a messy bun. Her tired sunken eyes were bordered with deep purple rings. Her clothes loosely hugged her figure and were covered with the worst colors of the rainbow. She sighed a deep breath and allowed me inside the home.
I glanced around and realized I had just entered an alternate universe. The floor was covered with strange objects; some squealed, others moved, and most laid tipped on their sides. The house was nicely decorated, as long as you looked past the smudges, dirt, and unidentified marks. I held my wrist to my face to see the time ticking away on my watch. I needed to get out of here fast.
“Ma’am, where is the faucet?” I looked back at her over my shoulder. The woman’s blank stare caught me off guard. “Ma’am?”
“Oh...” She came back down to reality. “Yes, the faucet. It is over here. Follow me.” She stepped over each object as if they did not exist.  I, on the other hand, struggled to find ground. She led me into the kitchen. Pots and pans filled the countertops. Crumbs littered the floor. The putrid stench from the surrounding garbage filled my lungs. I thought I was going to vomit. It was terrible.
The woman pulled several dishes out of the sink. One dish happily splashed its contents out onto the floor while she transferred them to the overcrowded table. I tried to keep a poker face, but inside, I was disgusted. How could someone live like this? My Mama always told me not to pass any judgments, but I could not help it. This woman is a slob.
She motioned towards the sink without looking at me. Did she feel shame? I hoped she did. I stepped next to the counter and turned the handle. Water sprayed everywhere. I turned it off, opened the cabinet doors underneath, and carefully searched for a spot to kneel down on. I pushed some crumbs aside and felt my pocket for my flashlight. I quickly pulled it out and turned it on. A spider greeted me on his intricate web. His home blocked my assignment. I pushed it out of my way and reached for the shut-off valve. The spider was not happy. He rushed to a dark corner and hid.
I yanked the wrench out of my toolbox and proceeded to remove the pipe. Old stale water dripped out. I flashed the light on the opening and saw the problem. I used my tools to pull it out. Stringy hair, paper, and other objects made up the ball of contents. I held them in my hands and stood up. I faced the woman and showed her what I had found.
“Well, Ma’am, here is what was clogging your pipes.” She closely examined the gross pile. She grabbed it and pulled a shiny object from the middle. She held it in for a moment before she burst into tears. I had no clue what was going on or how to handle this situation. All I knew was that I wanted to hurry up and leave this dump behind. Suddenly, the lady with the crazy hair collapsed.
I scooped her up into my arms and carefully carried her through the messy maze to lay her down on the couch. I stroked her face and called out her name. Her eyes fluttered before slowly opening. Confusion filled her face. “What happened?” she asked.
“Ma’am, you passed out,” I stated. “Are you okay?” The woman turned away. She used her hand to push me backwards. She muttered some words which I could not understand. I rose to my feet. “If you are okay, then I am going to finish my job. But, if you’d like, I could come back later.”
“No, I am fine. Go ahead and finish unclogging the drain,” she said without looking at me. I turned and walked back over to the sink. I found my safe landing spot and continued my job. Soon, I was able to put the pipe back together and turn the water on. I stood up and tested the faucet one more time. The clog was gone and I was ready to grab my things and run out of the stinky, garbage house. That was until I turned and noticed the woman.
She clenched the shiny object in her hands. Tears streamed down her face. She struggled to catch her breath. I sighed and placed my toolbox back down on the floor. I took several steps and joined her on the couch. I placed my arm around her. She quickly slumped into my arms and wept. “Why?” she muttered. “Why do you keep tormenting me?” I was confused. Why does she think I am tormenting her? I released her and stood back up. I could not feel sympathetic for this woman. I decided to leave and never come back.
The object slipped out of the woman’s hand. I watched it fall to the floor. It was a golden pin that had the word “Dad” on it and a shocking engraving. It was my name. I looked back at the woman.  She gazed into my eyes. I recognized the beautiful starburst design. It looked exactly like my baby girl’s eyes. She is an adorable five year old with an infectious smile and bright personality. Why does this woman have the same eyes? And why does she have a pin with my name on it?
“Daddy,” she said, “I miss you, but I cannot heal if you keep visiting me every night in my dreams.” I refused to listen to her. I am not her father, and she is definitely not my daughter. My blood started to boil. “It is all my fault. If I never asked you to come over…. well, then… ugh…you know…” She started to cry again. “I am so sorry, Daddy,” she whispered.
The anger filled my body. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. “I do not know who you are, or why you have a pin with my name on it, but I have to go. See you later.” I pushed through the door leaving the crazy lady behind. I was glad to be out of that situation.
The next day, I returned to my job. I pulled up in front of a small brick house. I walked up the porch and knocked on the door. There she stood. Her wiry, unwashed hair was strewn on top of her head in a messy bun. Her tired sunken eyes were bordered with deep purple rings. Her clothes loosely hugged her figure and were covered with the worst colors of the rainbow. She sighed a deep breath and allowed me inside the home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Artist's Worst Enemy: Self-Doubt

Am I good enough? Will people like my book? Will they like me? What if I fail? What if I succeed? What's next after publishing? Am I in over my head?

Self-doubt. It is a pain-in-the-bum. I am sure I am not the only one experiencing these feelings. In fact, I know I am not the only one feeling this way. If you are reading this blog, you may very well be asking yourself the same questions. Welcome to the club--together we will push this doubt aside. ((Hopefully))

The fear of success is strangely just as powerful as the fear of failing. As artists, we pour our hearts and souls into our projects. In a conversation with Nancy O'Neill (www.guesswhatbooks.com ), she likened writing a book to having a baby. We spend a lot of time nurturing our stories and drawings. We watch them grow from a group of small scribbles to a beautiful, healthy work of art. Then our babies are ready to go out into the world and we are left hoping they are accepted by it. We pray they do not get swallowed up or thrown to the wayside. We want the very best for them. Why? Because they are a piece of us. If they are rejected, then we are in a sense rejected too.

Hence, the self-doubt and the fear. No one wants to feel rejected or to have a project of ours ripped to shreds. We want love and support. We need people to like us and our work. Without it, we are lost. But we cannot let these fears stop us from putting our work out there. Artists crave reaction. We love to see how others respond. We love to see the joy on their faces when they connect with our creations. We love to hear them make comments and ask questions. We love to see them take a closer look or when they are in deep thought over a piece. Artist love to connect. It is why we create.

But how are we able to connect if we don't share our work with others? Simply put--we can't. No one will see your unique beauty if you are too scared to show it. The fear is just that--fear. It is a state of mind. It is a wall preventing you from realizing your dreams. It is stopping you from being you. The truth is your work, your message, and who you are is wonderful. Stop being fearful and just believe. Believe in yourself and your art because you are special. Embrace your fears and learn how to move past them. Educate yourself about the business if you are feeling overwhelmed. Learn about formatting, editing, marketing, etc. Join groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other sites where you can talk to other artists. There are a lot of people willing to help as long as you ask. Peace and love my friends.

Find more useful tips and links @ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jaclyn-M-Bartz/281282778685664

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Perfectly Unique Novel

We can try to define ourselves with a few words, a few sentences, or a few paragraphs; but, in reality, all of us are defined by a series of books. Our lives are riddled with different twists and turns. And, every experience molds us into who we are today. These events make up our own perfectly unique novel. While I was writing my author bio, one simple question plagued me-- Who is Jaclyn Bartz?

I have spent hours, days, weeks, and months trying to answer this one silly question. The truth is I am many different people. No, I do not mean I have a multiple personality disorder; but I serve, and have served, many different roles in  my life. On one side, I am a loving mother and wife whose purpose is to provide the best life for my family as I can.  While on another side, I am a writer and illustrator. I am also a friend, a sister, and a student. In my past, I was a dental hygienist (not licensed, but I will explain that in a future blog), a factory worker, and a graphic design intern. All of these roles combine to help explain who I am.

Then there are my past experiences, my interests, and my aspirations. I cannot explain to anyone who I am without mentioning where I have been, what I like, and where I hope my journey leads.  Every moment in my life-- including the terrible ones-- has helped me to be who I am right now in this moment. Every step and choice I made helped shape the person I am. It is easy to write about my dreams of being an author, and being an author explains who I am working to be. It does not explain anything about me though. The reasons why I write, the moments that combined to bring me here, and the things I did to prepare myself for this are better representations of who I am.

My life is defined by many different experiences and knowing me is knowing more than a few descriptive phrases. Who knew that a simple question could be so difficult to answer.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Procedure

              The tall woman grabbed her tool and sliced my stomach wide open. I tried to distract myself, but the trembling of my body forced me back into reality. The blinding light above my head flickered. A man quickly pressed the plastic piece firmly over my mouth and nose. Several people dug inside my body. All I could feel was pressure; yet, there was nothing I could do to stop them. My arms and legs were bound with tight, scratchy straps. But, in my head, I was ecstatic.

                A few moments earlier, a gang of people flooded into my small, cramped room. They barked for me to remove my clothing and insisted I put on their ugly garments. Unfamiliar faces anxiously poked my skin with sharp needles before they shoved my body from side to side. Two women grabbed my feet and forcefully tugged tight nylon socks over them. My only choice was to submissively lie there as they treated me like a piece of meat. When they were finished, they yanked my bed out of the room and into a long hallway. The screeching of the squeaky bed wheels echoed off of the pale walls. They carted me into an enormous white room full of beeping machines and strangers wearing gloves.

                A small woman pulled me up into a sitting position. She motioned for a man to come over. He muttered a few words as he smeared an ice-cold solution on my back. He proceeded to cover the area with plastic. Meanwhile, the lady squeezed my hand and pulled me closer. My back started to sting before I felt the pop in my spine. They lowered me down on top of the uncomfortable needle that now rested in between my vertebras. Soon, I could no longer feel the lower half of my body. The man started to jab a needle into my abdomen. Each time, he cruelly asked if I could feel it. Several silent moments passed by. The strangers tended to their machines and took notes. Suddenly, a tall, dark-haired woman burst into the room with a familiar face trailing behind her.   

                My heart skipped a beat when I noticed him. He wore the same ugly garments they forced me to wear. His hair remained hidden underneath the bouffant hairnet. Even though the cloth surgical mask covered his mouth, his happy, stretched smile was obvious. Within seconds, he appeared by my side. His warm hand gripped mine as he lovingly gazed into my eyes. I watched a small bead of sweat roll down his face. He hid his worry well.

                After they strapped my body down and checked their instruments, they signaled for the start of the procedure. The machines squealed in delight. The room filled up with the stench of burning flesh. I clenched my fists once they broke through my abdominal wall. The rhythmic beeping of the heart monitor became dwarfed by the vigorous shaking of my body. In the reflection of the light fixture, I could see them digging around. I shifted my attention back into the eyes of the familiar face above me.

                Then, the moment I was waiting for had arrived. The tiny whines of a small voice filled the room. The man next to me tried to look around the drape to get a peak. One of the strangers motioned for him to do his job. After he was done, they carried a miniature body across the room to a warming station. Several people handled the tiny person and wrapped him in blanket. The familiar man blissfully strolled back to me. He leaned over so I could see the handsome little face. A stranger released the straps from my arms. After nine long months, I finally had the chance to hold my baby boy in my arms. It was one of the best days of my life.  

Monday, March 3, 2014


Hello everyone,

It is my pleasure to share my journey with you. Currently, I am an aspiring author and illustrator. In this blog, you will be able to follow along with me as I travel through this new adventure. I will share any tips or information I come across. Hopefully, my story will inspire you on your own journey. Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog. Please stop by soon for new posts. Peace and love.