NaNoWriMo 2015

We’re five days into National Novel Writing Month and I’ve got a confession to make:  I haven’t been keeping up with it very well.  I’ve written a little bit and brainstormed a lot, but I’m nowhere near where I should be in the grand scheme of NaNoWriMo.  There are a few reasons (or excuses) for that.

First of all, I spent a long weekend in Houston and didn’t return until Monday afternoon.  At that point, I was exhausted and had a lot of unpacking and pictures to go through.

Second, with only a little more than a month before Backstage is released, I’m devoting most of my time and energy into making sure it’s ready to go by December 8.  Those of you who’ve published your own books know that that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for much else.

Finally, I’ve been having a difficult time figuring out how I wanted to begin my NaNo book.  I think I may have figured it out last night, but I’m still not 100% sure.  Sometimes, you can’t force it.  You just have to let the words come naturally.

I am, however, SO excited to see so many of my friends and colleagues and total strangers participating in NaNoWriMo this year!  It’s a fantastic way to get people writing and to get some fantastic new books out there.  It’s also proof to me that the written word is thriving.  There are so many rumors and reports and literacy and society’s love of reading being on the decline, but even if they’re true, there is so much love for NaNoWriMo and so much enthusiasm and excitement for reading and writing new books that I can’t help but feel optimistic about my trade and profession.  I love books so much.  I always have.  And it’s so encouraging to see so many others sharing that love.

NaNoWriMo will always hold a special place in my heart, particularly because it gave me the opportunity to write something new, something that I guarantee I would not have written otherwise.  Boy Band is the book that was not supposed to exist.  And now, here it is, a year later and I’m getting ready to release its sequel.  How cool is that?

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For those wondering, that little guy in the picture is Simon the NaNo Dragon.  He’s my November writing buddy.

Fellow writers and aspiring authors, enjoy your NaNoWriMo experience.  Write well.  Write what you love.  You never know what may come of it.  And if you get behind (or if you haven’t started on time – oops!), don’t get discouraged.  After all, it took me TWO months to finish Boy Band.  All you need to know is that you can do anything.  And you will.  Just keep writing.


Hello, friends.

Today, I am taking a break from blogging about all of MY stuff (let’s face it, it can get old) and instead will be talking about Snapdragons!

Yes, Snapdragons!


For those who have never heard of these adorable little critters, allow me to enlighten you.  One of my best friends in the entire world, Hannah K. Alvarez also happens to be one of the most brilliant and creative peopl I know.  She came up with an idea that inspires creativity and imagination in kids (and kids at heart) of all ages.  Snapdragons are mix-and-matchable stuffed animals.  Kids can create any kind of fantasy creature that they like.

For example:

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In a world that is becoming increasingly logic-centric, kids desperately need a bit of fantasy, a little imagination, and Snapdragons are wonderful toys to achieve just that.  Creativity needs to be encouraged.  It’s how we develop new ideas, how we dare to imagine the unfathomable.  Encourage your kids (or even just the kids in your life) to think outside the box (and yes, I know that expression is so IN the box, it’s a total cliche, but that’s not the point).

This wonderful and delightful project has just made its Kickstarter debut, so if you feel so inclined, hop on over and check it out!  Even if you can’t donate, simply sharing and spreading the word is immensely helpful!



Thank you all so much!


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!


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!


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.


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:

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:

Another really, really cool thing is that I recently joined  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.


Big, huge, exciting news, people! 

One of my best friends in the world is starting her own business, a line of mix-and-match stuffed animals called Snapdragons. 


She’s been working on the idea and designs for months now and this week, she sent them off to a manufacturer!  The prototypes are being developed as we speak! 

What exactly are Snapdragons? To quote the description on the Facebook page:

Snapdragons are stuffed animals with interchangeable heads, bodies, legs, tails, wings, and horns. You can mix and match them in any way you want. All of the pieces attach with magnets that are safely and permanently secured inside the stuffed animal. 

You could put a lion’s head on a dragon’s body with a wolf’s tail. Or a unicorn’s head on a wolf’s body with dragon wings. And so on!

There are four creatures to mix and match: a unicorn, a dragon, a wolf, and a lion. All of the pieces attach with magnets that are safely and permanently secured inside the stuffed animal.

Why mix-and-matchable?

Mixing and matching stimulates creative play and allows kids to create a creature from their imagination. The result is a lovable, huggable animal that can be disassembled and reassembled at any time.

When will they be available?

They are currently in development, final prototypes will be complete at the end of September 2014. We’ll start our Kickstarter campaign in October, and we expect to open our online store in December.

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Hannah Alvarez, the woman who designed and founded Snapdragons, is absolutely brilliant and an incredible artist.  She’s not a bad writer either.  I still have a short story that she wrote when we were in high school.  It was absolutely chilling.  I’m trying to convince her to write a book of short stories, with this particular one included, and I’m hoping she’s considering expanding her writing career.  For now, however, please stop by and help support her newest creative endeavor, Snapdragons! 




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I Believe in Dragons

I should be taking this time to write more on the Cemetery Tours sequel (or you know… sleep), but I have words in my head and they will not let me rest until I let them out.  So here it goes.

I hung out with some of my excellent, very good friends tonight.  These friends are hilarious, often inappropriate, and have introduced me to the heartbreaking and yet enthralling television series, Game of Thrones.  I have yet to read the books, because I hear they are longer and bloodier than the Bible, but I’ll probably get around to them eventually.  That is, if the series doesn’t just completely rip my heart out and leave me dying on the floor like just about every character in this franchise.

As awesome and wonderful as my friends are though, a few of them are also incredibly realistic (yes, I am saying that like it’s a dirty word).  They’re big fans of things like science and politics, and they’re pretty vocal about the world’s problems and how they believe those problems should be solved.  Tonight, they were talking about education, specifically the private vs. public vs. home school debate.  I’m not going to go into what was said, because frankly it was long and heated and I don’t remember most of the conversation anyway, but at one point, I overheard one of them say, “It’s just awful to teach kids *insert controversial opinion that I really don’t want to inflict upon my readers*.  You might as well teach them to believe in dragons.”

And it was at that point that I had to go and open my big mouth.

Me:  “You know, there are dragon legends in cultures all around the world.”

Realistic Friend:  “Yeah, that’s because there are lizards all around the world.”

Me:  “We even have a needlepoint dragon pillow in our church because St. George fought and killed a dragon.”

Realistic Friend: *Ignores me and goes back to being realistic*

Just in case you’re wondering, no, I do not actually believe in dragons.  I would love to believe in them, but sadly, I am a moderately intelligent person and I know that dragons exist solely in myth and fantasy.  But when you think about it, who’s to say that makes them any less real?  I’ve read several books that were far more real to me than certain things about this “real world” that we live in.

For example, when I was thirteen years old, my father lost his job.  Both he and my mother had to work two jobs to keep the family going, while I was left at home to watch over my sister, who was only six at the time.  The next few years were incredibly rough.  My family lost everything except for our house, which, looking back on it now, was a huge blessing and a miracle.  My mother, who’d lost both her mother and her best friend, had no one to turn to, so she talked to me about our family’s financial crisis.  I was only 14-15 years old, and I didn’t know what to do or how to help her.  She told me other stuff too that I won’t repeat on this blog, but I will tell you that it was something that a 14-year-old should never have to hear.  At one particularly low point, I broke down sobbing right in the middle of my first period class and had to be escorted to the counselor’s office.

I promise, I’m not telling you all of this to make you feel sorry for me or because I still feel sorry for me.  It’s in the past and I’ve been working each and every day to live for the future and not let what is dead and gone drag me backwards.  I’m just trying to set the scene, to give you sort of an idea why my brain works the way it does.

During this horrible, awful, no-good, very bad time in my life, I had one saving grace.  Well, as a Christian, I suppose I had two saving graces.  One, of course, was God.  The other… was Harry Potter.

Okay, yes, I’m a nerd, a huge nerdy fangirl, but put yourself in my shoes.  I was too young to go out and do things for myself.  Even if I had been old enough, I had to stay home most of the time to watch my sister while my parents worked.  Harry Potter was my escape, and Hogwarts, my sanctuary.  I needed that refuge, that time to not be smothered by thoughts of doubt and bankruptcy and fear.  Thanks to those books, I spent my days, and often my nights, exploring Hogsmeade, playing Quidditch, and fighting alongside the Order of the Phoenix (the final two books hadn’t been released yet).  And let me tell you, all of that was so much more real to me than all the crap that the “real world” was trying to throw at me.

Maybe some will argue that turning to fantasy isn’t healthy, or that it can’t really help, and maybe it didn’t help us with our struggles or financial needs, but it saved me in a way that being realistic never could.  It saved my spirit.  It kept my sense of wonder and hope and awe and adventure alive, even when the world was trying as hard as it could to kill it.  There have been times in my life when I truly thought that such strife might devour me, that I might lose myself to the callousness and cruelty of what is supposedly real.  But every time I’ve come close, that small part of me remembers what it’s like to read those books for the first time.  Not only that, it remembers how it felt the first time I touched a dolphin, the time my grandmother taught me how to tie my shoes, the first time I held my newborn kitten (who is now almost 21), the day my parents told me I was going to be a big sister.  The girl who lived through those moments would never let herself succumb to fear and doubt.  That girl believes in hope, in beauty, in miracles.  She believes in the goodness of life and the power of love.

She also happens to believe in dragons.