Jazzed About The Library

This last Saturday, I participated in my second Meet the Authors event at the Colony Library.  As always, it was a fun event.  The people at the library are all just so lovely, as are the authors who participate.  I came home with several new books I am itching to read.  Since After Death will be coming out in just a WEEK, I might actually have a little extra time to read soon!  Hooray!


I also participated in a new event this year called Jazzed About the Library, a dinner and fundraiser for the library.  It was quite the glamorous event with two live jazz bands, a photo booth, a wandering magician, and eight local authors (myself included).

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My favorite moment of the night, however, was near the very end when my new friend, Chase (author of the self-help book Have a Chase Day: IChase IDream), and I were packing up to leave.  We’d been talking to this one little girl and her brother all day.  She was a third grader, he was in Kindergarten.  This little girl is one of the brightest girls I’ve ever met.  She was happy talking to us for hours about animals, everything she learned in school, and our favorite Disney characters.  At the end of the night, Chase and I both told her that if she ever had any questions or if she’d ever thought about writing, to contact us.  It was then that her dad took her by the shoulders and said, “You see them?  You see how hard they’ve worked and what they’re doing with their lives?  That is what I want for you.”

That, my friends, is the best compliment I’ve ever received in my entire life.  I was so touched, I didn’t know what to say.  I know this little girl will go on to do whatever she sets her mind to.  She just has that spark.

As for me, my new goals for the year include reading and reviewing a stack of books (mostly published by fellow Indie Authors) that I’ve had sitting by my bed for forever.


I think that is a fairly attainable goal.

Happy Monday, y’all!

Living in Dreams

On Saturday night, my sister and I attended one of the best concerts we will ever see.  Ed Sheeran came to Texas and we had floor tickets.  I’ve never had floor tickets before in my life, so I had no idea what to expect.

After spending more than seven hours on my feet in the stifling early September heat, I can tell you that I have mixed feelings on the whole floor crowd thing.

For one thing, like I said, it’s super hot.  Plus all the sweaty people literally surrounding you, running into you, and smelling like farm animals makes it like a million times worse.  I’m not sure if people in Texas smell like farm animals because… well… it’s TEXAS, but I swear, I smelled sheep and dogs and horses at that concert.  And pot.  There was definitely pot.

For another thing, people on the floor like to shove.  Everyone is vying for a better view.  I mean, I was too.  It’s very constrictive and if you have any sort of social anxiety or anxiety in general, I don’t recommend floor tickets.  There was also a lot of fainting due to heat and so many people.

Speaking from a perspective standpoint, however, floor tickets are AMAZING.  It was like being a part of the show itself.

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For those of you who’ve been to concerts, you’ll know that headliners often have opening acts.  Ed’s opening acts were a British guy whose name I didn’t catch but was very talented and… Christina Perri!

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Christina is a delight.  She is a great musical talent with a phenomenal voice and beautiful songs.  In between songs, she told us about her life spent singing songs and dreaming of performing and making music.  She spoke of the nay-sayers and the self-doubt and moments of feeling like she simply had nothing to write, nothing to sing about.  And yet, she fought through.

“You are living in my dream right now!” she exclaimed before diving into her hit song, Human.

Naturally, she ended her set with my absolute favorite of her songs: A Thousand Years.  And of course, as she sang and we all sang along, I couldn’t help but think of Twilight.  I know, I know, Twilight is lame, but hear me out.  When the books first came out, my sister and I read them all.  And I’ve got to be honest, I thought they were fun.  I thought they were kind of magical.  They were a great escape.

But you know, what I love about Twilight isn’t really the story or the characters.  It’s that it’s brought a lot of readers all over the world a lot of joy.  It isn’t a story that really makes you think or a great literary masterpiece by any means.  But it is a story that millions of readers all over the world love, and it inspired a beautiful, amazing, wonderful song.  I realized there, living inside Christina Perri’s dream, that that song inspired my dreams as well.  I would love to write the kind of stories that make readers happy, that connect and resonate with them.  I’ll never be a literary genius and my books are really just for fun.  They’re not very deep or profound.  They’re just fun.  I want my books to bring that same kind of joy.

Ed gave a similar performance of his song, I See Fire.  This is a song that has made me cry at least half a dozen times.  If Twilight is just a fun little escape, Middle Earth is a world that truly holds a special place in my heart.  It all began in middle school.  My friends and I were in love with the places and characters of Middle Earth.  Seeing it brought to life once again through The Hobbit movies was, in a way, like returning home.  Hearing Ed Sheeran sing his hit song live, however, with images of Smaug the Dragon flying and breathing fire in the background was nothing short of pure magic.  Music is powerful.  Books and stories are powerful.  They exist to transform and inspire.  They are proof that magic does exist.  That the human soul is something truly exquisite.  We are capable of creating these worlds and this music and… I just don’t even have words to describe how wonderful I think that is.

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I love you all.  Thank you for books.  Thank you for music.  Thank you for reading.

Thank God for the Dreams

That didn’t come true.

That sounds weird, right?  But in college, I had a very, very different life planned out for myself.  I didn’t have any dreams of being a writer.  I had no intention of getting my Master’s degree or starting up my own company.  And I certainly never expected to find myself working at a summer camp.  My dreams were way different, and if they had come true, I don’t think I’d have anything that I have today that is worth having.

I think there are experiences you’re supposed to have and people that are destined to be in your life.  I believe that because I wouldn’t know three of my very best friends had my high school dreams come true, or had I not received a flyer in the mail about a small summer camp up at Lake Texoma.  How weird is that?  To think that that one little piece of paper kind of altered my destiny?  It was a total whim, applying for a lifeguard/counselor’s position up there.  But I did and I got the job.  And because of that one little whim, that one little slip of destiny, I got to spend yesterday hiking with these lovely people (and puppies).


Every time I’m around them, I can’t help but think about how happy I am that I took that chance, followed that whim.  We’re supposed to be in each others’ lives.  That’s all there is to it.  And that’s an awesome feeling.

I love having them, too, because we all enjoy spending time in beautiful places such as this… Straight out of a fairy tale.

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A Dream is A Wish

As many of you probably know, Disney’s live action Cinderella hits theaters Friday.  I am ecstatic.  I’ve already bought the soundtrack, the background on my phone is Ella and the Prince, I am already obsessed with this movie and I haven’t even seen it yet.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  I love Disney, and I especially love Disney Princesses.  I always have.  I always will.  My mom had me watching all the old Disney classics before I could talk.

Case in point:


I mean, I really didn’t have a choice.  I was indoctrinated.  But I’m happy that I was.  Disney was a huge part of my childhood and it remains a source of magic, love, and inspiration in my life to this day.

I’ve heard all the arguments.  Disney gives young girls unrealistic expectations in love.  All Disney Princesses want is a man to save them.  Disney teaches girls to give up everything for guys they barely know.

Obviously, I don’t agree with these arguments.  I was raised on Disney Princesses (heck, I was raised thinking I was a Disney Princess) and I have never felt inclined to throw everything away for a man.  I never thought that my life should revolve around finding a husband.  I never wanted it to.  Instead, all those Disney Princesses I so loved and admired inspired me to dream of a life full of adventures and magic and yes, love.  But love doesn’t necessarily have to mean romantic love.

My favorite Princess was always Ariel.  I’ve made this known countless times here on this blog and on Twitter and in my everyday life.  I loved her because she was different and because she wasn’t afraid to dream.  I’ve heard the argument that she gave up everything for a man.  While that is true, it’s also true that she was dreaming of the world above long before she met Prince Eric.  She was curious, she was adventurous, and she was determined.  That’s why I continue to admire her to this day.

I could sit here and make cases for Disney Princesses all day.  Jasmine taught me to be independent.  Meg taught me that good people sometimes make bad choices.  Even Snow White taught me that chores are so much more tolerable with a little bit of music.  Although I will admit, Snow White really isn’t that smart.  In fact, she’s a downright ditz.  But oh well.

For me, Disney will always be a reminder to me to believe in magic and to believe in possibilities.  And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  After all, if those who came before us had not dared to believe in the impossible, who knows where we would be today?  Would man have walked on the moon?  Would we have our modern medicine and scientific wonders?  I don’t know.  But I like to think that we, as a global community, will continue to believe in the impossible.

Dreams and Plans

My sister posted a great quote to Facebook today.  “Don’t call it a dream. Call it a plan.”

I love that.

I’ve been a dreamer all my life.  Even when I was little, I used to dream of what my life would be like, or perhaps I should say what it could be like.  I imagined beaches and mountains and castles.  I imagined swimming with orcas and meeting my favorite musicians and falling in love.  I wrote it all out in the form of a novel (which should have been a clue right there that I was destined for something other than what I had in mind at the time).

Today, I’m still a dreamer.  If you want to know what I dream about, just head on over to my personal Pinterest page.  I still dream about oceans and mountains and castles.  I still dream of all the places I haven’t seen and all the adventures I still want to have.  I still dream of falling in love.  I still dream of orcas and sunsets.  I’ve also added a few new dreams.  I dream of my own personal beach house. Or cabin in the woods.  Or both.  Preferably both.  I dream of hiking and of enchanted forests.

Most importantly, however, I dream of happiness for my family.  I dream of being able to renovate my parents’ house, to be able to replace their dishwasher and fix their faulty washer/dryer.  I dream of giving my mother her dream swimming pool in the backyard.  I dream that she’ll be able to quit her job and never have to work again.

I’m trying each and every day to turn those dreams into plans.  Isn’t that the difference, after all?  A plan is a dream put into action.  My plan right now is to keep writing, and to try to publish and sell as many books as I can.  I have a few events lined up for 2015, but I’m definitely looking for more.

I’ve heard that dreams are often hard to come by.  That’s never been my problem.  I have enough dreams to last me several lifetimes.  What I need is a plan, a real plan.  And I’m not sure I’m the best at making those.  For now, all I have are words.  Perhaps, that’s all I’ve ever had.

A Letter to my Younger Self

Browsing Instagram, I saw a post that read, “If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say?”  That really got me thinking.  All throughout my life, I’ve made it a point to never forget my former self, to remember her hopes and dreams, and to hopefully never disappoint her.  I want to be the person that she wanted to be.  I know I’m not where she thought I would be, but I also like to think she’d be proud of me.  This is my letter to her.

Dear Jackie (or Jacqueline… I’m not sure if you’re still in that phase or not),

I hope you’re doing okay.  I hope you’re happy.  If you’re still in elementary school, I know you’re not.  I know you think you’re too tall, too fat.  You don’t like the fact that you’re ten years old and people think you’re in your late teens.  You don’t like your hair or your glasses or your crooked teeth.  You don’t have a lot of friends because you’re always off in your own head.  You’re different and you don’t know why.

I’m writing to you today to reassure you and to prepare you for the days to come.

First of all, life is going to get better for you.  In fact, it’s going to be awesome.  Your high school years are amazing, and you’re going to meet your best friends in the world, the friends who are going to be with you for the rest of your life.  They’re amazing.  I can’t wait for you to meet them.  You’re going to meet some boys, too.  They’re super cute, but don’t lose your head over them.  High school crushes don’t last.  Stay focused on your dreams and your goals.

I do have to warn you, not all of your dreams are going to come true.  And that’s okay.  Yes, you will be devastated, but you’ll eventually learn that everything that happens happens for a reason.  You have so many wonderful opportunities and adventures waiting for you, I’m actually a little jealous.  And you’ve found new dreams, dreams that suit you perfectly.  You’re going to chase them, and I hope you keep chasing them.  I know I’m doing my best!

Unfortunately, your days are not all going to be smooth sailing.  High school is awesome, but you have a lot of hard times waiting for you and your family.  They will make you question everything you believe, and the after-effects are going to stay with you long after everything has passed.  But these times will also help you to find your way, and you’ll discover a strength that you never knew you had.  Be patient and remember that everything has a purpose.  And try to forgive.  It’s something I still struggle with, but I know that your heart is still very open to the innate goodness in people.  I’m sorry to say that’s something I’ve lost over the years.  Maybe you can help me to get it back.

I know I’m making it seem like you and I have nothing in common, but that’s not true.  I still love all things ocean and yes, I’m still obsessed with Disney Princesses.  But I’ve also grown in ways that I’m sure you never expected.  For example, I have a tattoo.  I know you think they’re totally taboo and would never in your wildest dreams see yourself getting one, but trust me, you’ll love them.  You’re also going to learn to love your hair, once you figure out how to work with it.  You’re going to spend three summers working at a summer camp (you definitely didn’t see that one coming).  I also know you have that weird thing against popular music?  I still don’t really understand that one, but you get over it really fast.  Granted, a lot of what’s popular today is really stupid, but there is some good stuff out there.  Don’t worry.  You’re a smart kid.  You’ll figure it out.

That’s something I really want you to know.  You are smart.  I know you don’t think you are because you haven’t quite figured out how to pay attention in class and you get nervous taking tests, but you are smart.  It comes as a surprise, not only to you, but to everyone around you, because let’s face it, you’re kind of goofy (and I say that with love), but you are.  Please promise me you’ll remember that.

Unfortunately, you’re going to struggle with self-esteem issues all your life.  High school is fine, but college and grad school get a little rough.  I can’t tell you why.  I can only tell you that I’m finally beginning to overcome them.  Hang in there, and don’t let self-doubt or self-image get you down.  You are worth so much more than you think you are.

I know this is getting far too serious, but there are still things I feel I should warn you about.  First of all, don’t take Calculus.  Just don’t even bother.  You won’t understand a bit of it, and it will end up being the only C you’ll ever get in your life.  Second, do not, I repeat, do NOT drive in ice.  You will total your car.  Trust me.  Third, getting your wisdom teeth out is going to be the worst physical experience of your life.  Brace yourself.  It’s truly horrible.

Finally, I wanted to tell you that I’ve been doing a lot of digging into our ancestry and family history.  I want you to know that you were right.  You are descended from Kings and Queens of Ireland, Scotland, England, Denmark, Sweden, France, and even Jerusalem.  You are, in fact, a Princess.  Trust me, I’m just as excited about it as you are.  That’s definitely something I haven’t grown out of.

I know this is getting kind of long, so I’ll let you go.  I just wanted you to know that everything is going to work out for the better.  There will be times you don’t think it will.  You’re gong to feel lost, abandoned, hopeless, scared, small, even worthless.  But you’re also going to experience tremendous joy, excitement, love, achievement, adventure, creativity, discovery, and hilarity.  And those times far outweigh the heavy and the negative.

Keep dreaming, keep believing, and be yourself.  It will all be worth it in the end.


Your 26-Year-Old Self

In Dreams

Yesterday, my dad told me about a dream he had where Joan Rivers came to him in a sparkling white dress and told him to remember things.  This is weird on several levels, mostly because my dad was not a fan of Joan Rivers (he’s not really a fan of anyone).  But he often has really weird and oddly descriptive dreams.  I guess I inherited that from him.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had really exciting and sometimes really terrifying dreams.  I still remember a dream I had when I was three years old.  My parents left me in a haunted house with an evil witch, a caged lion, and lots of other kids all locked in this big room.  I ran throughout the house, asking everyone where my parents were.  The witch laughed and told me they’d left me there and I’d never see them again.  I ran out into the night just in time to see their taillights driving away.  Apparently, I was crying in my sleep, because my mom and dad came into my room that night and tried to wake me up and ask what was wrong.

Other childhood dreams were just kooky.  Once, when I was about five I guess, I was getting over the stomach virus and I dreamed that a giant Macaroni noodle with purple spots and an evil face was chasing me around town.  I woke up screaming.

As I’ve gotten older, my dreams seem to have gotten less whimsical, but are still just as weird and stressful.  I’ve been told I’ll eventually grow out of remembering them, but if I’m like my dad, and in a lot of ways, I really am, that’s not going to happen.

I guess this is on my mind now, because after another night of restless and exciting dreams, I woke up feeling like I hadn’t slept at all.  Unlike most creative minds, I have absolutely no problem sleeping.  In fact, I sleep way more than I probably should, 9-10 hours a day.  I used to think that was just my body’s normal sleep pattern.  Now, however, after that talk with my dad and a little bit of internet research (always reliable), I’m beginning to wonder if maybe my active subconscious has something to do with my tendency to oversleep.

In all honesty, I could probably write short stories based on some of the creepy dreams I’ve had.  In fact, I included two of the scariest dreams I’ve ever had into Between Worlds, the sequel to Cemetery Tours.  I featured another of my dark dreams, though that one was actually pretty cool, in Cemetery Tours.  Of course, I changed them up a bit to fit the stories, but I kept in the parts that made them really creepy.

I wrote down one dream that I had over the summer.  I was going to share it here, but my sister told me it was too weird and that everyone would think I was sick or something.  But since we’re on the topic, I’ve decided to share it anyway.

It was like I was watching a movie.  The first scene opened with a young sickly looking man and his wife.  She was very pretty and had short brown hair, cut to her ears.  I knew immediately that the young man was very, very ill, probably dying.  His wife worked as a nurse, and she was clearly exhausted from long shifts and caring for her husband.  

In the next scene, the husband was taking a walk around the park, when suddenly, he collapsed and began bleeding out of every orifice.  It was some sort of blood cancer.  His wife was appeared out of nowhere, holding him and crying for someone to help her.  A crowd gathered.  One of the onlookers was a tall, shadowy man.  He had no distinct ethnicity, but his hair was long and dark and tied back in a ponytail.  

He spoke to the dying man and said, “I can help you. Do you want to be saved?”

“Yes,” the young man gasped.

In the next scene, he was healed and happy and getting ready to go back to work.  His wife was happy and looking much healthier and more refreshed than before.  But both knew that it was only temporary.

Before long, his symptoms returned.  His time was running out.  

The man with the long dark ponytail appeared again.  He said, “I can cure you.  I can take this disease away from you forever.  Is that what you want?”

The young man said, “Yes.” 

The shadowed man raised his hand and immediately, the illness left the young man’s body.  Then, the shadowed man turned and, for the first time, acknowledged me.  Before I could do or say anything, he clasped his hand over my mouth.  

“It’s hers now,” he said.  In exchange for curing the young man, he’d given the disease to me.  I was going to die.  Maybe not immediately, but soon.  

The young man looked at me, horrified.  I knew that he was feeling guilty that I had to be sick, but I also knew he wasn’t going to go back on his deal with the devil.  He let me take the fall.      

Albus Dumbledore has a great quote: “For in dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own. Let him swim in the deepest ocean or glide over the highest cloud.”  I guess my world is a little more disturbed than I would prefer it to be.  Maybe one day, I’ll get to the point where I can swim the deepest seas or learn to fly.  Until then, I guess I’ll continue on my own twisted adventures.

Ode to the 80s

Like so many wonderful things, I am a product of the 1980s.

Granted, having been born 14 days into 1988, I don’t remember much of the 80s, but I can still appreciate the culture.  Or at least the music.  I love 80s music, specifically 80s pop.  I don’t know a whole lot about 80s metal or hard rock or anything, but all those one hit wonders and classic pop songs?  Karma Chameleon, I Ran (So Far Away), Missing You, Take Me Home Tonight.  Love them all.  If I’m having a bad day, I just put my 1980s mix on shuffle and my day instantly improves.  The music is just so lively and colorful and fun that I can’t help but feel empowered whenever I listen to it.

My love for 80s music began when I was in my freshman year of college.  I was browsing through the music section at Target and I just happened upon a 1980’s Classic Radio Hits.  I only knew one song at the time (Down Under by Men at Work), but since I didn’t have iTunes at the time, I figured, “What the heck?” and bought it.

I loved it.  My favorite song on the album was easily Africa by Toto.  The rest is history.

I enjoyed my time in college and grad school, but to be honest, I never really felt like I fit in there the way I did in high school.  Weird, right?  Usually high school is supposed to be the “not fitting in time” and college is supposed to be when you really find yourself, but for me, it was the other way around.  I didn’t have a clue who I was or who I wanted to be in college.  It was confusing, especially because my particular group of friends all seemed to know exactly what they wanted.  For a lot of them, it was marriage.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would love to get married one day.  But at the time, I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to live like that with someone… you know… FOREVER.  It sounded sort of like a trap to me.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I knew I wasn’t ready for that.  And despite what chick flicks try to teach us girls, getting a guy is not ALWAYS the answer.

During this time of being the weird single girl trying to find herself amidst a group of happy couples, I often found myself turning to 80s music for comfort.  I can’t tell you why, but for some reason, I always felt very free listening to those cheesy one-hit-wonders.  I was able to envision myself standing on top of a mountain (which I have now done) or hiking along the seaside (which I have now also done), and I realized that that was what I really wanted out of life.  I wanted freedom.  I wanted to experience and explore.  I wanted to take everything in and see things and learn.  Years later, and my lust for freedom is still the driving force behind everything I do, even writing.

Writing gives me a huge sense of freedom and escape.  I can go anywhere and do anything I want.  Everything I write, I see and experience in my own mind, and I like to think that if I can envision it, I am that much closer to achieving it.

So, to all of you pursuing your dreams, following your ambitions, or perhaps simply trying to figure it all out, I dedicate my favorite 1980s power ballad to you.  If this doesn’t give you the energy and power and confidence to shoot for the stars, then I’m not sure anything will.



I’ve always been a careful person, but never nit-picky enough to qualify as a “perfectionist.”  I’m not neat.  I’m not organized.  I’m convinced that if the mess in my bedroom can make itself, it should be able to clean itself up as well.  However, I’ve always been confident in my ability to do quality work, and especially in my ability to write (That being said, I really hope this post is grammatically correct or I might be something of a joke).  I was always eager for teachers and professors to read my term papers and essays, because I knew I had done a good job.

I am really, really, really excited for people to read Cemetery Tours.  I’m confident in my book, my story, my characters, all of it.  I was a little nervous when my teacher and my friend read it, but having passed the test as far as both of them are concerned, I’m ready to share it with the world.  I like it, and I really think readers will like it, too.  I wouldn’t be talking about it so much if I didn’t!  Trust me, I do not like being embarrassed.  I’d rather be in some kind of physical pain than be embarrassed.  And there are things that I’ve written that, yes, if they got out, I would be SO embarrassed.  Fortunately, Cemetery Tours is not one of them.  I am really, really proud of my book.

Turning the final version into my printing company, however, was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done in my life.  I just know that something’s going to be wrong with it, even though my editor edited it and my high school literature/English/grammar teacher edited it and my genius author/valedictorian/Summa Cum Laude/double major/law doctorate friend edited it and I myself read it through about a hundred bajillion million times.  I am still convinced that something is going to be wrong.

Apparently, this is normal.  All independent authors and publishers have talked about “polishing that manuscript.”  Well, this one has been polished, painted gold, spit-shined, and then polished again.  Still, there are no guarantees that there’s nothing wrong.  We are human, and to err is, unfortunately, human.  But I can’t edit forever.  No one can.  At some point, you have to take the editor’s cap off and replace it with the publisher’s bowler hat (For the record, I’m not sure publishers actually wear bowler hats).  You’ll never be able to move forward if you’re always second guessing not only yourself and your own abilities, but those around you whom you’ve trusted with one of the most personal and precious things to an author; your manuscript.  I never, ever thought I’d let anyone read something so personal.  If I was willing to take that step, I have to take the next and trust, once and for all, that Cemetery Tours is good enough and it is ready to be shared.  That goes for all manuscripts out there being primped for publication.

This is the home stretch, y’all.  I’ve been waiting for it for so long, and I can’t believe it’s finally here.  Thank you all for your support.  Please say a prayer, not only for me, but for all the indies out there.  We don’t ask for much.  As hokey as it sounds, we’re just trying to make our dreams come true.

I’m finally ready.


I know it’s late, so I’ll keep this short.  I just need to express how genuinely lucky and thankful I am to have friends and family members who fully supports my goals and ambitions.  My parents, my sister, my best friends, my teachers, my choir director, and even perfect strangers all offer me support and encouragement every single day.  I strive each and every day to make them proud of me, especially my parents, who believe in me – often times a lot more than I believe in myself. So thank you.  

God Bless.