Jacquelyn Eubanks

Author of THE LAST SUMMER Series

Mission Trip, Photo Shoot, and Summer Camp

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - Jul• 12•14

Hello, everyone!

So, I just wanted to slide in a new blog post before I leave for summer camp for three weeks. I’m going to be studying creative writing at one of the world’s top summer arts camps, and I couldn’t be more excited (and nervous)! I watched quintessential camp movies this week, like Camp Rock and Raise Your Voice and The Parent Trap (the one with Lindsay Lohan). I’m not really sure what to expect at camp, but I can’t help envisioning kids spontaneously breaking out in song or someone tapping their drumsticks to a nonexistent beat on every available surface. We’ll just have to see :)

On the other hand, I got back a week ago from a mission trip to West Virginia. It was pretty amazing…I made so many awesome, new friends and enjoyed every moment of the breathtaking scenery. All week long, my group worked on putting drywall and siding on this man’s brand new house; this man, Mr. G, was in dire need of a new house, and I’m thankful I got to partake in building his future home. On the last day (4th of July, my favorite holiday, ESPECIALLY when combined with Christmas to create my ultimate favorite holiday: Christmas in July), my group went white water rafting – it was incredibly beautiful and exhilarating! I even got to jump off a 40-foot-high rock cliff into the river. It was so much fun, something I know I can never forget. Here are just a few pictures from my time spent in West Virginia:

mission trip 1mission trip 3

mission trip 4mission trip 5

Not to mention, this past week (once I got home, that is) I hung out with my friend Sara and went thrift store shopping for vintage clothes – we plan on having a costume party at the end of the summer, most likely The Great Gatsby themed. Then a few days later, my friend Becky and I dressed up in my new costumes and did a fun, Last Summer-themed photo shoot around the town that inspired Valia Springs, the fictional town in my book! To check out the full photo album on Facebook, click here.

Just a few of my favorite photos from this spontaneous excursion include: Photo Shoot 1photo shoot 2photo shoot 3

Well, that’s all for now! I’ll be taking photos, journaling, and making video blogs for y’all to enjoy while I’m at camp.

First Drafts & John Hughes Films

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - Jun• 24•14

Hey, everyone!

So, for starters I just wanted to let you all know that the first draft of The Last Chance, book 3 of The Last Summer Series, is finished! Now it’s going to the editor’s (and will probably require a few rewrites. I just know that this book is The One…the one that I’ll send out to literary agents and get traditionally published).

On another note, I’d like to talk about something very near and dear to my heart: John Hughes movies, specifically his teen movies from the mid-1980′s. My dad and I are avid fans of his, and I’ve recently watched several documentaries on the legendary director/producer/writer. You may recognize his films:

Sixteen CandlesThe Breakfast ClubFerris Beuller's Day OffPretty in PinkThese are just a few of my favorites – they are timeless classics in the sense that they revolutionized the way teens were viewed in the media. John Hughes, who was admittedly more of a writer than director, had this connection with teens; he was able to capture their struggles, personalities, and passions perfectly. I wish I could’ve met him…he tragically passed away in 2009.  His films covered topics from the worst sixteenth birthday to detention, senior prom, and ditching school for the perfect day (I plan on having my own Jacky Eubanks’ Day Off when I’m a senior, but that’s another story) – using universal themes such as love, growing up, stereotypes, and friendship.

The point is, my goal is to be the John Hughes of young adult novels. I want to write books that address pressing social issues that teens face on a daily basis, such as bullying, abuse, divorce, self-harm, drugs, depression, eating disorders, sexuality, pregnancy, faith, and a struggle to find identity and hope for the future. A lot of my future writing projects (they were in the works but are now on hold) have to do with really controversial topics – my goal is not to offend anyone, but to bring to light what it really is like to be a teen in the 21st century. And who could write an exposé better than a 21st century teen themselves? If John Hughes can do it in his films, I can do it with my books. It is a writer’s duty, after all, to write what they know and record history as they experienced it in their lifetime.

And so I’d like to conclude with a note about The Last Chance: it is not quite a coming-of-age novel, simply because the main character is an adult (so I suppose it could be classified as a New Adult novel). It is the hardest project I’ve yet to take on, simply because of the massive amount of conflicts and themes throughout the story. It deals with death, depression, identity crises, love versus lust, bitterness, vengeance, forgiveness, friendship, dreams deferred, alcoholism, sexism, and isolation…and I hope that, by the grace of God, I can publish this book in confidence, knowing that John Hughes himself would’ve been impressed.

The Last Time Available Now! Plus Birthdays, Book Awards, Contests, and a Sneak Peek

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - May• 30•14

So I just thought I needed to announce officially that The Last Time is available for purchase on Amazon.com, Kindle, BarnesandNoble.com, and soon Nook and iBooks!

And to coincide with this, I have some exciting information! Currently The Last Time is Editor’s Pick on MissLiterati.com – there is an author’s interview, book review, and even a contest to win a free copy of both books in The Last Summer Series! I HIGHLY recommend entering the contest. Who doesn’t love to win free stuff?! And besides, I will personally sign the winning books – what do you have to lose? :)

Not only all of that exciting stuff happened, but also The Last Time won ‘finalist’ in the 2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards for the category Preteen Fiction!

National Indie Excellencce Award

 

How cool is that?! I just about screamed my head off in excitement when my mom told me about the award! I couldn’t be happier. It’s amazing to know that all of the hard work I poured into this book – all of the time, emotions, memories, experiences, and tears – paid off.

And on top of all that, IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY YESTERDAY! I am officially seventeen! The day couldn’t have gone better. My mom let me sleep in an extra hour, and I woke up to the sounds of birds chirping and a shard of sunlight piercing through a crack in the window shade. I rolled up the shade and was blinded by the sun, filling the gorgeous blue sky. It was seventy degrees and perfect – I couldn’t have asked for better weather. Then I began the day by taking a shower, doing my hair (I went for a crimpy/wavy style), and listening to music from the 1960′s (more on that later). I danced around my room, singing to songs like “Dream a Little Dream of Me” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” (to check out my official 1960′s playlist, click here) while trying to figure out which outfit to wear. When I finished getting ready, I baked two dozen sugar cookies to take to school to share with my friends (fyi, I LOVE baking). Then my mom made me go to school, which was okay because I arrived just before lunchtime and got out of my morning classes. At lunch, my friends and I went outside and played softball in the field behind our school. After school I attended a two and a half hour softball practice (which, for the record, was exhausting but fun) and I finished up the day by going to dinner with my family at the Italian restaurant called Buca di Beppos. I love going to Buca’s – Italian food is my absolute favorite, and the restaurant has this adorable vintage feel that really inspired Salvatore Anetrini’s restaurant in The Last Summer. By the time I got home that night, it was pretty late, so I settled into bed and read a chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird, my favorite book of all time. It was just the most perfect birthday ever because of its simplicity. It really is the simple things in life that make the best memories.

On a final note, I wanted to express how I’ve been in a huge 1960′s fad lately – mainly because The Last Chance, book 3 in The Last Summer Series, takes place during the year 1961. That’s why I’ve been obsessing over ’60′s music and wanting to attend retro eateries. I’m even considering cutting my hair in a ’60′s fashion! Why all of a sudden this craze? Well, the creative juices have been flowing for The Last Chance. And in lieu of that, I’d like to present a collage I made which incorporates the main themes, tone, mood, and events that take place in my latest novel. Let’s see if you can guess what might be happening in the third installment of The Last Summer Series:

The Last Chance collage

Well, that’s all for now! Stay tuned for more updates on The Last Summer Series!

 

Either Write Something Worth Reading, or Do Something Worth Writing

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - Apr• 21•14

There’s this great Benjamin Franklin quote that I’ve been thinking about, considering I’ve been slacking on my writing endeavors lately. I feel horrible about posting blogs barely once a month, and so to fix that I’ll commit myself to posting a new blog every Monday.

In lieu of this commitment, I’m also trying to discipline myself and write more of “The Last Chance” whenever I have time (because I’ve really been slacking on that, too, and I NEED to get it finished!). But before I get all upset over my own laziness, I need to explain myself.

I have been swamped with work, too busy for my own good. It’s a bad habit I have, over-committing myself, because for some reason I love to feel busy all of the time – it gives me a sense of purpose, a sense that I’m doing something important with my time. Because quite honestly, I can’t stand wasting time.

For example, since my freshman year of high school, I have:

  • published two novels
  • been in two schools musicals (I had a lead role in one)
  • played three seasons of varsity softball
  • played one season of JV basketball
  • been a choir member for two years
  • gotten inducted into National Honor Society
  • gotten elected as Student Council Secretary
  • chaired the Social Committee and planned Homecoming
  • joined the Speech & Debate team
  • done High School Enterprise club and built a Dobsonian telescope
  • done a year’s worth of taekwando
  • joined my church’s youth group
  • joined Book Club
  • coached 5th and 6th grade girls softball
  • taught Sunday School to preschoolers at my church
  • gotten straight A’s, taken honors classes…

…and that’s just during the school year!

So as you can imagine, I’ve been stressed, overworked, and exhausted lately with all of the stuff I’m currently involved in. Some of my writer friends have published two books in less than a year, and I felt like I was a failure or something because I hadn’t done the same. But then it occurred to me – I was too busy living life right now, so how could I possibly have time to write about life?!

You see, there are points in time where writing is all I want to do, because I wish to delve into the fictitious lives of my characters. However, in order for my characters to come alive, I sometimes have to step away from the book and be fully present in the real world. Ultimately, the best books reflect the struggles, emotions, and realities of everyday human life in a fictionalized fashion. In order to write a great book, you have to live through the emotions and struggles you want to portray in that book. For example, my friend Lizzie writes romance novels; while they’re cute and sugar-coated, they lack depth and true emotion. You know why? Because that friend of mine has never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, never fallen in love. With all due respect, her books don’t accurately reflect the realities of having a high school boyfriend. She’s writing from her intuition and imagination, not experience…and that’s the difference between her book and, say, a John Steinbeck book. Because Steinbeck reflected his life experiences in his writing, and it showed.

So just because I’m not writing all of the time, it doesn’t mean I’m wasting my time. In fact, I’m gaining valuable life experiences that I may eventually use in my stories. I’m living a life so full, it’s worth writing about. Right now, I’m at a point in my life where I’m doing more things worth writing about than I am writing things worth reading, but that’s okay. The life of a writer is meant to find a balance of both the living and the writing, so that somewhere in the middle you have a beautiful creation of both the written word and the life experiences to compliment it.

Interlochen & Cozy Creative Corner

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - Mar• 17•14

II have some very exciting news: I applied for the creative writing program at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, which is a world-renowned fine and performing arts boarding school/summer camp in northern Michigan, and I was accepted! So this summer, for the first time ever, I will be taking a creative writing course – among the nation’s top teenage writers and instructors. I am very excited for this opportunity – I’ll be able to master the art of creative writing in a classroom setting, surrounded by people who are as serious and passionate about writing as I am.

On another note, I’d like to express my excitement about…my new couch. Yes, as silly as it sounds, I’m a bit overenthusiastic about this couch I bought (with my own money, not my parents’, haha!) from Pier 1 Imports and put in my bedroom. It is so incredibly soft, cushy, and comfortable – not to mention it’s positioned directly across from my window, which provides me with an excellent view of the woods near my house. I’ve had several snow days this past week, and so I ended up spending my whole day on my wonderful new couch, typing away at my third novel. It is absolute bliss – all I really need is a nice couch and a decent laptop. It’s the little things in life that I find myself appreciating the most.
This has become my cozy creative corner, my special place where I can sit for hours upon hours and just write. In less than 48 hours, I was able to write 3 and 1/5 chapters – that’s a total of 25 pages, size 12 font, single-spaced. It’s like there’s something magic about my creative corner. Even now, as I sit on my couch typing this, I am so at peace. This is my natural habitat, my place to escape from reality. I can create anything I want, here in my writer world on the couch in my room. It’s amazing how something so insignificant can be so special.
Photo of Creative Corner

My Cozy, Creative Corner

Miss Literati Features Author Jacquelyn Eubanks

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - Feb• 18•14

Miss Literati (www.MissLiterati.com) is the premier website for young writers.  Young writers can post their work on the site to obtain feedback from their peers.  In addition,  Miss Literati features authors and novels that would be of interest to their teen audience.

This week, Jacquelyn Eubanks is the featured author on this website.  Miss Literati interviewed her on what it takes to be an author at such a young age and on how to write historical fiction.

Her interview can be found at http://bit.ly/1geaIsV.

5 Stars for THE LAST TIME

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - Nov• 30•13

Rating:  5.0 stars
Reviewed by Jean Hall for Readers’ Favorite

The burden of achieving social acceptance and outward, physical beauty can be crushing for a teenage girl. But then there are the victories, both small and large; little feats of independence and larger, inward self-acceptance. Jacquelyn Eubanks in The Last Time showcases a sympathetic and beautiful soul with her heroine Charley. Charley (which is short for Charlotte) has been transplanted from rural Georgia to the more sophisticated suburb of Yonkers, New York.

“Although she was born in Yonkers, her experience is decidedly Southern. She has left her heart in Georgia and his name is Frankie. But the fledgling couple keeps in touch as pen-pals in the post-war innocence of the 1950s. Charley loves baseball, it is true. She is a tom-boy, no doubt about it. But all the appealing attributes of Charley make her an object of jealousy with the popular clique at her new, all-girls Catholic high school.

“Jacquelyn Eubanks keeps the story of Charley lively but with some heartbreaking moments. Charley does find unusual courage in the midst of adolescent taunts. The scenes at Charley’s home keep the innocent plot well-grounded. There is mother-daughter friction and a grandfather’s illness. The book has some nice visual elements. There are clumsy, hand-written notes from Charley and Frankie, as well as elegant, cursive chapter headings. The setting of the 1950s is a nice choice to show this bobby-soxer’s life at home and at school. The Last Time by Jacquelyn Eubanks shows the strong but tender heart of a girl who feels the grief of last times, but with the hope of new beginnings.”

THE LAST TIME by Jacquelyn Eubanks has received Three 5-Star Reviews from Readers’ Favorite.  THE LAST TIME, the second novel in THE LAST SUMMER SERIES, is available in both paperback and Kindle.

 

Update on THE LAST TIME!

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - Nov• 13•13

So, it’s time for some MAJORLY EXCITING NEWS…”The Last Time” is about to be released any day now! THE LAST TIME is the second novel in THE LAST SUMMER SERIES and sequel to THE LAST SUMMER.

I can’t wait for you to read it! I’m SO excited! And to celebrate, here’s the official cover:

Cover Photo for The Last Time by Eubanks

THE LAST TIME

Some fun facts about the cover: In order to get the photograph featured on the cover, I had to schedule a photo shoot at my old elementary school building (which is almost 140 years old!). My wonderful photographer, Carol Gould and I went through the empty school to stop and take pictures in all different places, including the gym, locker room, various staircases, a classroom, a fire escape, and even a bathroom. Overall, we took 727 photos!

It was SO COOL to be able to dress up like Charley for a day and pretend to be her. It was like stepping back in time, becoming a part of the 1950s. One thing I had to do to prepare for the photo shoot was come up with a Charley costume. I basically had to recreate a 1950s Catholic school uniform, which consisted of a white button-up blouse, bobby socks, saddle shoes, and a homemade plaid skirt.

The plaid skirt was the trickiest part of the costume! In “The Last Time” I had already described Charley’s uniform skirt as being a maroon and gold plaid.

And let me tell you, it was impossible to find an already-made skirt in that type of plaid! So I resorted to the old-fashioned way of doing things: I bought the right colored material, grabbed a sewing machine, and went to my grandma’s house. We tried sewing pleats, but I totally messed up on the back side of the skirt; so my grandma, being the sweet woman that she is, undid all of the sewing I’d accomplished and re-sewed the whole thing.

It took a week to get done, including two days I spent the night at my grandma’s just to finish making the skirt in time. It turned out really cool, though, and now I have a one-of-a-kind skirt to keep forever as a sort of souvenir.

Now, I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say this about “The Last Time”: be prepared for A LOT of heartbreak, and one intense cliffhanger!

And get ready for the release of “The Last Time”!

Vote Now on the Cover of THE LAST TIME

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - Oct• 17•13

We just got the preliminary covers back from Outskirts Press for THE LAST TIME.

Here they are:

The Last Time Green Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Time Brown Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which do you like Best?

 

Everything Has Changed

Written By: Jacky Eubanks - Aug• 14•13

So I’m in the dead middle of writing the third installment of “The Last Summer” series, and I’ve come to an important decision:

It is highly unlikely that I will be publishing the novella, “The Last Word”. The reason for that is because in the original version, it is very dark – lots of drama, envy, anger, loathing, regret. It would be interesting, possibly, because it switches between first person points of view of Charley, Frankie, and Arthur.

However, that being said, in the story Charley is a depressed, emotional wreck, a complete and utter basket case who’s basically out of her mind. She runs away from home (which is never a good message to give to my readers), possibly risking her life, all for a boy.

The characters lie, cheat, disobey their parents, use profanities that I was almost ashamed to put on paper, and partake in destructive activities.

Not only is it strung up with far too much teen angst, it’s not even realistic, especially not for a 1950′s time period.

I feel like my readers wouldn’t even enjoy the book, because the characters are all emotionally distraught. Arthur’s a lovesick puppy caught between his logic, conscience, and heart; Frankie’s a complete jerk who doesn’t mind ruining his friend’s reputation; and Charley is delusional and practically suicidal. Readers would truly hate the characters, really. You fall in love with them after two novels and then despise them after a novella ruined them for you…no, I’m not letting that happen.

But in the midst of all of this deciding whether or not to publish “The Last Word”, going back and forth in my head what the right thing to do was, I came across a music video. But not just any music video. Oh, no, a Taylor Swift music video, which makes it extra special in my mind.

Everything Has Changed Music Video

I watched it, really soaking it all in, and I instantly knew that this was some sort of inspiration. Just watching the two children, best friends (but clearly feeling something more than friendship), enjoying the innocence of childhood friendship. They color on each other’s faces, build a fort, dance together, act out a play, and sit together on top of the monkey bars at a playground. It’s like they’re in their own perfect, little world. Nothing can tear them apart, or tarnish the bond that they share.

And I just knew, this is Charley and Frankie. Obviously the kids in the music video look nothing like Charley and Frankie, but that’s not the point: they act like how I always figured my characters would act. They do the same things I pictured my characters doing together as little kids.

And I thought, a prequel. That’s what I could do. I could do a prequel. I could keep the title “The Last Word” (if that seemed to fit the story line, of course), or I could call it “The First Summer” (obviously about Charley’s first summer in Valia Springs, when she breaks her arm, meets the boys for the first time, tries to join their team, etc.). Either way, one thing is certain: IF I do decide to write this (I may very well NOT), it will portray the magic and innocence of first love and childhood friendship. The story will be from Charley’s point of view as a child, so the writing will be simple and sound a little young, but that’s all supposed to correlate with the age difference between her character in all of the other books.

 

My only hope is that if I DO end up writing and publishing a prequel, you, the reader, might feel the same rush of sweetness, cuteness, magic, and innocence as I felt while watching that music video. Because for Frankie and Charley, when their worlds collide, everything changes. Their lives would never be the same.