Thanks For The Memories

2016 was an interesting year to say the very least. I know several people who are more than ready to bid this year a rather disdainful adieu. But you know, 2016 wasn’t all political warfare and celebrity deaths. I can’t speak for everyone, but there are several moments from the past year on which I will look back with fondness.

And what better way to look back than with Instagram pictures?

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  1. Birthday Party at Painting with a Twist.

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2. Hot Chocolate by the fire.

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3. Hiking the ENTIRE 9 miles around White Rock Lake.

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4. Camping and sleeping outside for the very first time.

5. Adventures at Fossil Rim and Glen Rose Dinosaur Park.

6. My sister’s junior voice recital.

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7. The Little Mermaid, Wicked, and The Book of Mormon (not pictured).

8. Book Events.

9. Earth Day Celebration.

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10. A visit to Pioneer Village.

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11. My best friend moved home to Texas! This was definitely the best thing to happen to me this year!

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12. I took a dream vacation by myself to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, climbed two lighthouses, and visited the wild mustangs who live on the beaches.

13. I traveled to Arkansas to see my sister perform in Pinocchio.

14. A stop in to pay my respects to those buried at Showman’s Rest in Hugo, Oklahoma… the same graveyard featured in the third Cemetery Tours novel, After Death.

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15. Published the third book in the Boy Band Series and had a short story featured in Lurking in the Shadows!

16. Reconnected with old friends at my ten-year high school reunion. screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-11-04-09-pm

17. Met Aaron Watson.

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18. Celebrated the release of a “new” Harry Potter book… and was officially sorted into Ravenclaw!

19. Boy Band and Backstage won a few cool awards!

20. My sister and I traveled to Oklahoma to see 5 Seconds of Summer.

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21. I donated 10 inches of hair to Locks of Love.

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22. Found out I haven’t lost my touch at this Dave and Buster’s arcade game.

23. We all realized our childhood dreams of becoming Pokemon Masters.

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24. Had an amazing experience at the Texas Teen Book Festival (and got to spend the weekend with my dear friend Kara!)

25. Boy Band was featured in a SugarScape article! THIS was so very cool.

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26. Ghost hunting, sunrises on the beach, exploring submarines and World War II warships in Galveston.

27. I met Daymond John and gave him a copy of Cemetery Tours and a hug.

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28. Sold books and ate the most amazing cheesecake on a stick at Texas Renaissance Festival.

29. Met a childhood hero.

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30. Saw my sister perform in the Phantom of the Opera.

31. Found adventure in Lubbock (and trust me, that is not easy).

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32. Returned to the stage for the first time since grad school.

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33. And of course, read lots and lots and lots of books.

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Today, my little sister turns 21.  I could very well make this a sentimental post about how she’s my best friend in the world and how she’s crossing a major milestone and how I’m so thankful to have her in my life, and all of that would be very, very true.  I don’t know where I’d be without her.

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In honor of her birthday, I decided to release my new book, Backstage, the sequel to Boy Band, a day early on Kindle.  I did this, in part, because she loves the first book so much.  We’re both big boy band fans in real life, and she was the one who really pushed me to finish the first book and to publish it.  She enjoyed Cemetery Tours also, but not like Boy Band.

That being said, I hope you all enjoy the second book!  I did my best not to end it on as BIG a cliffhanger as the first one, but rest assured there is a third one in the works!  Sam and Mel’s story isn’t quite finished yet!

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Love you all!

Backstage on Kindle

 

Work in Progress

Before I send any of my works in progress off to my editor, before I begin sharing titles and plot details, before I even finish the manuscript, I send the project, chapter by chapter to one person.  My sister.  She is the only person who gets to read everything I write, no matter what.  That’s because she’s basically the only person in the world I trust to be completely honest with me.  She’s not going to look me in the eye and tell me that a book is good when it, in fact, is not.  She tells me what works and what doesn’t work, if something fits a character, if the plot is just totally and completely useless, etc…  It takes a good friend to tell you that they love your writing.  It takes a sister to tell you the truth.

I know I can trust her, not only because she’s my sister and I know she’s not afraid to be honest with me, but because she’s an even bigger reader than I am.  Seriously.  I read a lot.  KJ devours books.  She is the ultimate book consumer.  This is why she is always my primary reader.  She doesn’t edit.  She just reads.

Last night, we were texting about a lot of different things and all of a sudden, she says to me, “Not gonna lie, but I think the reason I like <Current Work in Progress Title> so much is because it’s the greatest source of wish fulfillment I have ever read.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Cemetery Tours, but you are an amazing YA author.  Like, if I was fifteen and you weren’t my sister and I found this in a store, I would eat it up.  And I’m not just saying that because it’s wish fulfillment.  I’m saying that as someone who literally went to the library every day in 7th grade and read every YA book there.”

Can I just tell you that is the best compliment I have ever received from anyone?!  Especially my sister.  She and I are always supportive of one another, but neither one of us are the type to say something like that unless we really mean it.  It meant more coming from her than it would anyone else because I know she hates phony compliments as much as I do.  I really didn’t know what to say!  I can tell you right now, however, that she’s got me so, so, so excited to keep writing this book and to finish it hopefully this month so I can get it out ASAP!  Don’t worry, I’m not going to rush it or put out a book that’s low quality just because I’m eager to share it.  But I am so, so, so excited about it now!  Her words totally and completely made my whole day.

Cemetery Tours 3 is still definitely on its way, and so is the new series I’ve been talking about.  That’s what I want to do with my life.  I’m telling you, I want to be Meg Cabot who has like, a million different series.  I’m just interested in so many different things and types of stories.  I used to think that my addictive personality was something of a curse.  I love the ocean and I love Scotland and I love ghost stories and I love boy bands and I love fantasy and I love magic and I love forests and I love chick lit and I love folklore… I used to wonder what I was going to do with myself with so many different interests… Interests that really have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

I can’t believe it took me so long to figure out the answer was writing.

Cool Things

So, I’ve been so preoccupied with my trip to Lubbock and seeing my sister’s first professional production (it was AWESOME by the way) that I haven’t really been keeping y’all up to date with a lot of the really cool things that have been happening lately.

So first, a few pictures from the trip.  Lubbock wasn’t quite as awful to me this time around, but I did suffer some nasty hay fever and my friend totally burned the back of my hand with a fresh-out-of-the-oven baking sheet.  Thanks, Rachel.

Seeing my sister, though, was absolutely the best!

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We caught up on a lot of important issues, like final exams, The Hunger Games, and the new One Direction music video.

There were also several Christmas decorations around, which I loved.

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There was also tea and and an awesome Lubbock sunset.

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Then I hopped on a plane and flew home.  I had a great time, but now that it’s over, I’m so excited for Thanksgiving week, I can’t even tell you!

Okay, finally on to the other cool updates.

First of all, I got to meet one of the most iconic writers of our time and a fellow Texan, Anne Rice!

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My friend and fellow writer (soon-to-be published author) Savannah graciously accompanied me and we had a lot of fun browsing old books, enjoying White Rock Coffee, and of course, fangirling over writing.  We really lucked out too, because I didn’t realize we needed a ticket to meet Anne Rice.  A very kind and thoughtful man overheard our conversation, walked right up to us, and gave me an extra ticket!  What a cool guy!

Ms. Rice, in case you were wondering, was very polite and soft-spoken.  She signed my copies of The Vampire Chronicles and Prince Lestat, which I am very much looking forward to reading.  Then, I gave her a copy of Cemetery Tours.  I’m not sure if that was a gutsy move, or a very presumptuous one, but I wanted to give it to her A) because I admire her work and B) as a way of saying thank you.  I have no idea if she’ll read it or not, but she was very gracious.

The next cool thing to happen is I finally ordered a dragon from Donna’s Dragons!

This is Simon the NaNo Dragon.

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For those who don’t know, Donna is an independent artist who makes polymer clay dragon statues.  Ever since I stumbled across her on Facebook, I’ve been in love with her dragons!  You can find her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/DonnasDragons

Cool thing number three is that Cemetery Tours is featured in Pose Magazine’s December Issue as Book of the Month!  I am so humbled and honored and I want to send a huge thank you out to editor Tiffany Jones for including my book in this month’s issue!

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You can find the issue here: http://www.joomag.com/en/newsstand/pose-magazine-december-2014-pose-magazine/0457396001416541990

Another really, really cool thing is that I recently joined Ancestry.com.  I’ve always been curious about my ancestors and where I come from.  I have found a lot of Yankees, Sons of the American Revolution, Swiss people, and Scots.  It just so happens, however, that one of those Scots is Robert the Bruce.

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This is a picture of Robert the Bruce I took at Stirling Castle in Scotland a few years back. I had no idea at the time that he is, in fact, my 22nd Great Grandfather.

It turns out my dad is a direct descendent of Kings Robert I (the Bruce), II, and III of Scotland.  This is a really cool thing for me, not only because of how much I love Scotland (I love it a whole lot) and Robert the Bruce is remembered as being one of its greatest heroes, but because growing up, I wanted nothing more in life than to be a Princess.  Well, maybe I just have a minuscule fraction of Robert’s DNA swimming around in my veins, but you know what?  It still counts.  Childhood dream is officially a reality.

Finally, and perhaps this isn’t as cool as all of that, but after taking a few days off, I went back and reread my NaNoWriMo project.  Y’all, I really love it.  I love Cemetery Tours also and I’m still so excited and proud of it and the third one is definitely coming next year, but I am really enjoying this new book.  I can’t wait to finish it and get it out there.  Granted, I’m not sure the same crowd that liked Cemetery Tours will be as into this new one as I am, but that’s okay.  There are a lot of readers out there.  And I love you all.

Enjoy your weekend!  Mine is rainy and cold, but that’s okay, because I have warm pajamas and a kitty.