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.

#NaNoWriMo

Alright, people.  The last few days of October are upon us.  That means binge-watching Halloween movies, making those last minute costume adjustments, and counting down the minutes until all the candy goes on sale.

For writers, however, it also means that we are a mere 36 hours away from National Novel Writing Month.

I’ll be honest with you.  I never really understood the idea of scampering to write a novel in 30 days.  I thought, if it’s meant to happen, it will.  Like relationships, you can’t push your craft.  For a lot of us, National Novel Writing Month is every month.  However, not every month has it’s own movement, own website, own army, really, of writers willing to take the plunge and risk it all.

Before, I really didn’t like the idea of being timed.  I didn’t like the idea of following a trend (I’m kind of a rebel like that).  I don’t like anything to be forced.  I really like doing my own thing, dancing to my own beat, and not being pressured or influenced.  But the more I thought about it this year and the more people I talked to, the more I thought, hey, this actually sounds like a lot of fun.  I’d also recently had an idea for a YA novel that I would probably be putting off forever had I not been talked into NaNoWriMo.

I’ve got to tell you, I am super stoked to be participating this year.  It gives me something to talk about with friends and it gives me a brand new community to be a part of!  All of us are offering each other encouragement and I just love that.  I will say, however, that I am not telling a soul my super secret pen name.  I have a number of reasons for this.

First, I’m afraid of failure.  I think everyone is on some level, but I’m so afraid of it that I usually don’t even tell people I’m attempting something until I know it’s not going to fail.  For example, I didn’t tell anyone that I actually know (apart from family and very close friends) that I’d written Cemetery Tours until a few weeks before it was released!  No one knew that I’d been working on a book for over a year.  Everyone was shocked, because usually I’m a huge blabbermouth.  I like to share and tell people things.  Of course I do!  I’m a writer!  But this is another one of those unsure projects, and if I fail, I don’t want anyone to know.

Secondly, the book I’m writing is Young Adult and let me tell you, it is not a ghost story.  It’s not even a little scary.  It’s pure fluff.  I’m pretty sure if a lot of my readers (heck, a lot of my friends) knew what I was writing, they’d roll their eyes and go, “Seriously!?  Are you kidding me?!”  My school would probably demand my Master’s degree back.  It is that silly.  But I’m kind of loving it. It’s pure guilty pleasure.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this November?  Sound off in the comments section!

In other news, Cemetery Tours 3 is still moving right along.  I still don’t know when I’ll have a release date for it, but I’m really enjoying writing it.  I really hope readers enjoy it as much as the first two.  Again, it’s different, but I think it’s a good different.

Speaking of Cemetery Tours, I’m going to be participating in a friend’s book release anniversary celebration.  There will be giveaways and Q&As and lots of other cool stuff!  You should check it out here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1481550198784895/?sid_reminder=8758610241320386560

Finally, and I can’t believe I forgot to share this with y’all earlier, but I wanted to let you know that MY SISTER is going to be performing in Lubbock’s Moonlight Musical’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS!  She’s one of 8 Tech students asked to participate in the production.  It’s a HUGE honor for her.  She got to sign a contract and everything.

The production features mostly professional and equity actors including Ken Page (the ORIGINAL Old Deuteronomy on Broadway and the DVD and the voice of the antagonist in The Nightmare Before Christmas whose name I don’t know) and a little YouTube star named Todrick Hall.  I am so jealous that she gets to work with these amazing and awesome actors, but I’m hoping that since I’m family, maybe I can get a picture with them!  Anyway, I am so, so, so, SO proud of her and I can’t wait to see the show!  Here’s an article about it: http://lubbockonline.com/entertainment/2014-10-15/moonlight-musicals-production-cats-using-more-professionals#.VFB_QUJRHzI  

The Hardships of Being a Domestic Pet

As I have mentioned before, I have two cats.  I love my kitties.  At 25, I am already a certified Old Cat Lady.  As much as I love my two girls, however, they are both very different and do not love each other.

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This is Jazzle.  She’s been a pet since before she was born.  Her mother, our dearly departed Basil, was abandoned at our veterinarian’s office by her former owners.  Around that time, she knew my mother was in the market for a new cat, so she called her up to see if she wanted to stop by and see these other two cats that she had.  Mom wasn’t interested in them, but as she was leaving, she noticed Basil reaching her paw out through her cage to her.

“What’s her story?” my mom asked.

The vet proceeded to tell her that she was a young cat, no older than a year or two, and that she had been left there.  She was also expecting a litter of kittens.

My mom knew instantly that she wanted Basil.  She also knew that, at age five, I had never been around a kitten.  Both of our other cats had been old when I was born.  So she told the vet to call us when the kittens were born and we’d come pick one out.  We actually ended up with two kittens.  My grandmother came along and decided she just had to have the little orange kitten.  We named him Rusty.  I, however, had my heart set on a baby girl kitten, and as it turned out, there was only one.  A tiny little blue tortie, the runt of the litter.  I immediately claimed her as mine and christened her Jasmine after Princess Jasmine in Aladdin.  Over the years her name has evolved from Jasmine to Baby Jaz to Jazzie and finally, to Jazzle thanks to Sheldon and his beloved Zazzle on The Big Bang Theory.

Jazzle is now nineteen years old, so we basically do everything we can to keep her happy.  This includes feeding her whatever she wants and giving her glasses of ice water to drink.

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Case in point.

Since she has been a pet all of her life, Jazzle is a pretty happy, unspoiled little kitty.  She sleeps, she eats, she gets brushed, and then she sleeps some more.

Midnight, however, has not always been a pet.  I don’t know her story before she showed up in our backyard one fall evening.  All we know is that she had been fixed, so it’s safe to assume that at one point she was a pet or going to be one, and she didn’t have any diseases when we adopted her, so she’d probably been vaccinated before.  However, when she found us, she was underfed and terrified of humans.  She didn’t let me pet her until about a year and a half later.

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This is Midnight.  Yes, she is missing a leg.  And yes, my dad calls her “Tripod.”  And “Wobbles.”  And “Tub.”  But that’s because he thinks she’s fat, not because she has three legs.

I’m not sure what Midnight expected when she first came to live with us, but I don’t think she was expecting there to be so much she had to put up with.

For example, I don’t let her drink dirty water from where the ceiling leaks.  She is forced to drink out of the clean, sterling silver bowl that we put down for her.

Then we don’t let her play with electric wires or get behind the washing machine even though every time she tries, she gets stuck and realizes that she hates it and she gets dirt and dust all over her meticulously clean fur.

Occasionally, she also has to share her chair.  She doesn’t like this at all.

Then, of course, we let other people into the house sometime and she doesn’t approve of that either.  The last time that happened, we locked her up in my room, much to her dismay, and she decided to punish me by refusing to take her pills for about three hours.

Then there’s the vet.  Whenever my mom or I have the audacity to take her to the vet, we hear about it.  For the rest of the day.  And then, of course, she refuses to take her pills, probably because she knows they came from the vet.

The latest egregious sin we have committed involved leaving her alone overnight and allowing my friend to come in and feed her and try to give her pills at 7 when she is accustomed to taking them at 8:30.  That’s pretty much a triple whammy for her.  She doesn’t like being left alone unless she’s trying to sleep, she doesn’t like other people, and she really doesn’t like not being on her schedule.  She flat out refused to take the pills and she didn’t eat a darn thing that my friend left for her, opting instead to devour the entire bowl full of dry food that we had put down before we left.

But at least we had fun on our trip.  And she’s happy that we’re back.  And maybe, just maybe, she’ll forgive me by the time 8:30 rolls around.