Unexpected Happenings

Hello, friends.

I hope you all had the most pleasant of Easter/Passover weekends.  If you don’t celebrate either, I hope your weekend was just as pleasant.  My weekend, while weird in perhaps not the best possible way, still managed to be wonderful.

I spent Easter with three of my best friends.  Since none of us have kids, we hid treats for two of their dogs around their parents enormous backyard.  It was like a doggie EAster egg hunt.  I really didn’t expect to get so into it, but we all had so much fun trying to guide the puppies to treats.

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Speaking of doggies, Lucas here really wants you to read Boy Band when it comes out in a few weeks!

Anyway, after that, we headed back to the apartment for an indoor spa session.  We filled the bathtub up with bubbles and soaked our feet.  Then we painted our nails and made s’mores with Nutella.  I now know what Heaven tastes like.


Finally, to end our night of Eastery festivities, we set up fish tanks so my friends could go buy some fish (because there are several other reasons why someone would bother setting up a fish tank).  Anyway, while we were emptying the bags and getting everything set up, we found this:

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Someone thinks they are either very funny or very clever.  Either way, we got a good laugh.  So I guess they would be right.

So yeah, Easter was pretty fun in a very unconventional way.

But now that it’s Monday (almost Tuesday), it’s really time to get down to business (no, not to defeat the Huns).  I’ll be attending the North Texas Book Festival in Denton this Saturday.  I’m SO excited, not only because it sounds like an AWESOME festival, but because Boy Band will be pre-released!  Agh!!!



I have a few more events lined up in the upcoming weeks and months, including, I found out just a few hours ago, a book signing at Half Price Books Flagship in Dallas!!!  It’s the same Half Price where I met Kathleen Kent and Anne Rice!  It’s my first ever personal book signing!  I’ll let you know more details as they unfold, but I am ecstatic.

Finally, in other career news, I find myself in the mindset of… rewriting Cemetery Tours 3. 

Don’t panic!  It’s still coming!  And I’m not deleting what I have.  I just find myself struggling along and trying to convince myself that I’m happy with where the characters and the story is going and I’m just… not.  I’ve been doing some brainstorming recently, though, and I’m thinking I know what I want to happen.  It’s more of a tweaking than an actual re-write.  But you know, sometimes as writers, if it’s not working, it’s not working.  And that’s okay.  I’ve discarded manuscripts and half-manuscripts before.  This is nothing new.  I just want, not only what is best for my characters, but what is best for my readers.  I want to write a book that they’ll enjoy, the kind they deserve to read.

And yes, I’m still going to write the rest of the character interviews.  Busy, busy, busy.  But in a good way!

I’ll talk to y’all soon.

Easter Stories

Happy Easter, everyone!  For those who celebrate this Holy Day, I hope you had a wonderful time with friends and family, bunnies and chocolate, and the grace and love of our Risen Lord and Savior.  For those who do not celebrate, I hope you had an equally wonderful Sunday filled with just as much love, friends, family, and chocolate.  

As High Church Episcopalians, Easter is a fairly extravagant to-do in our church.  My family actually celebrates the resurrection on Saturday night at the Great Vigil of Easter.  It’s my favorite service of the year.  It starts off in total darkness, there are some readings, a few Baptisms, and then a priest stands up in front of the church and declares, “Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!”  The congregation responds with, “The Lord is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!”  Then, all the lights come on, brass orchestra music fills the church, and the triptych above the altar is opened to once again reveal Jesus.  It’s all very beautiful and moving and it reaffirms my faith each and every year.




Then, after the service ends, there is always a big break-the-Lenten-fast party filled with food and yeah, okay, lots of wine.  We are Episcopalian, after all.  


As wonderful and beautiful as the service is, however, it rarely goes off without a hitch.  Last year, I served as an acolyte throughout the two-hour-long service (yes, we are crazy, but the promise of chocolate and alcohol gets us through).  My job at the beginning of the service was to stand in the back of the church while the priest lit the Paschal Fire (a huge bowl full of holy fire that symbolizes the Holy Spirit and new life of Easter).  Each church member had a small candle that we use while the church is still dark and as acolytes, we were supposed to take fire from the Paschal flame and go through the aisles and share the fire throughout the congregation.  

Well, I’m not sure what happened last year, maybe someone doused the bowl in lighter fluid, but somehow, we ended up with a regular bonfire in the back of the church.  I’m not kidding.  The flames were huge.  The priest who was supposed to light the Paschal Candle would get close to the fire, then she’d back away going, “Hot… hot…”  

Finally, everyone’s candles were lit, but the fire was still blazing, and no matter what anyone did, it would not go out.  By this point, we knew we were holding up the service, but we couldn’t go anywhere.  It was impossible to get around the fire without catching something on fire and technically, we weren’t supposed to go anywhere until the fire was extinguished.  At one point, a man came forward with the top to the bowl and, very bravely, slammed it down on top of the fire.  For a few brief moments, we thought it had worked, but then, we all heard that familiar WHOOSH and a doughnut of fire began burning around the lid, through the cracks between it and the bowl. I won’t lie to you, for a minute, I thought we may have accidentally ignited the flames of hell.     

By that point, the priests were all pretty desperate, so they started signaling for us to just go around the flames.  Each and every one of us stayed planted firmly where we were and shook our heads.  No way were we going anywhere near that fire!  We were in robes!  My hair was down!  Something was going to catch on fire.  

Thankfully, a few minutes later, they did finally get it extinguished for real, but that is something I will never forget.  It’s actually a pretty funny story, and at the after party last year, we were all laughing so hard about it, I had tears running down my face (of course, a few glasses of wine may have been involved by that point). 

This year, I didn’t have to acolyte, for which I was thankful.  I really like being able to relax and enjoy the service.  Last night’s Vigil was just as beautiful and moving as it always is (though I would have preferred a few different hymns, but whatever), but it will inarguably go down as one of my favorite Easters ever.  

A few rows ahead of us sat a mother and her two young kids, a son and a daughter.  The little boy can’t have been more than three or four, but he was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  He had dark curly hair and wore a plaid shirt and a little bow tie.  He would have been cute enough just as he was, but at the very end, during the last hymn of the service, he started laughing and dancing around.  Then, every time the church would ring their bells and sing “Alleluia,” He would ring his bell, jump around, and stick out his tongue.  He was clearly enjoying putting on a show, not only for the little girl behind him, but for whomever happened to be watching and laughing.  I was definitely one of them.  That little boy made my entire night.  

That’s the kind of joy Easter is supposed to bring us.  Those kids who dance and laugh and jump around get it, and I hope his happiness stays with me, not only throughout these next fifty days of Easter, but throughout the entire year. 

Happy Easter, everyone!  


Easter Flowers

Hello, friends!  

Today is going to be spent marking up the sequel’s manuscript and ever so enjoying the long and grueling fun and exciting process that is editing.  

To make up for the lack of interesting post, here are some pictures of beautiful Easter Flowers that I took at the Arboretum yesterday.  


Happy Almost Easter! 

How Not to be Cool

Recently, I’ve received a lot of sweet and encouraging words about my posts.  My favorite messages are the ones that say that I make them laugh.  I love being told that I’m funny, mostly because in person, my sense of humor can be really awkward.  I always think I’m hilarious, and people do end up laughing at me, but it’s usually because I’m being inadvertently funny while trying to be funny in a totally different, cool-person way.  I’ve finally come to accept, however, that that’s just never going to happen.

I’ve never been very good at hiding my true nature.  Trust me, I try.  Even when I was little, I tried to make everyone think I was cool and adorable.


But the truth is I was crazy… and a little gross.


So, instead of telling you stories about how awesome and cool I am, I’ve decided to share a few stories that are actually true.  And hopefully funny.

One of my mom’s favorite stories is the time she caught flipping the bird at the Easter Bunny.  Let me just say right now that I was three years old and I did not know what I was doing.  A few days earlier, I had gotten my middle finger stuck in our screen door.  That was apparently the scariest moment of my little life up until that point because I still remember it.  I thought I was going to be stuck in that door forever and they were going to have to chop my finger off.

Anyway, later that week, my mom and my grandma took me to see the Easter Bunny.  I’m sure Mom and Mimi were really enjoying their day until they paid for the pictures and turned around to see me, standing right in front of the rabbit, and about ten other kids waiting to get their pictures taken, and shooting him The Finger.

“JACKIE!  What are you DOING?!” my mom screamed.

“Showing him my hurt finger.”  Duh, Mom.

At that point, my mom walked right up to that poor fellow in the rabbit costume and explained, with a distinct emphasis on every word, “SHE’S SHOWING YOU HER HURT FINGER.”

The rabbit just nodded, bobbing his head up and down.  Good thing it didn’t fall off.  That could have been even more traumatizing than the little kid with hobbit hair making rude hand gestures in the middle of the mall.

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of that day, but I do have a picture of the day I met Roger Rabbit.  I was terrified of his movie as a kid, so I have no idea why my parents thought I wanted to meet him.


Clearly, I am not happy.

Speaking of things that scared me, nothing in my entire life, not even my intense fear of zombies, compares to the day I realized what it really meant to be afraid of something.  To be honest, I still feel really guilty about it, because it stemmed from a really sweet gesture.  Around the same time that I flipped off the Easter Bunny, my dad bought me E.T. the Extraterrestrial on VHS.  That night, we all gathered around the television, turned off the lights, and played the movie.

I didn’t last five minutes.  As soon as I saw E.T.’s creepy little silhouette running through the grass, I was done.  I was so scared that I started bawling and my parents quickly turned the movie off.  Now that I think about it, I think I had the same reaction to The Wicked Witch of the West, but my fear of her was nothing compared to the sense of sheer terror that E.T. ignited in me.  My fear of him lasted for a ridiculously long time.  I even had my dad go back and make sure he wasn’t hiding in my room after my cousin showed me a picture of him when I was nine.

I didn’t try watching E.T. again until the restored version was released on DVD, and I am proud to announce that I am no longer scared of him.  I think the new CGI effects had a lot to do with that, as I’m still not overly fond of the puppet.

Confession: Although I have successfully overcome my E.T. phobia, I’m still not okay with Yoda.  Creepy little puppet, he is.

Along with being a little wuss who was scared of absolutely everything, I was also remarkably dumb.  Although I do not blame my exposure to Disney for unrealistic expectations in men, I do blame them for misleading me on what should have never even been up for discussion.

For example, thanks to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, I truly and honestly believed that diamonds and rubies and sapphires came out of the ground looking beautiful and sparkly.

I can’t even tell you how long it took me to figure out that real diamonds do not look like this.  I actually think I was in college before it finally hit me that Snow White totally lied to me.  I don’t know why it took me so long.  Granted, it’s not something that I think about very often.  I just remembering being in a shop and I saw a garnet rock, the way it actually looks before it’s cut down into the diamond shape, and thinking, “Huh… that’s a funny looking garn… OH MY GOD.”

Dumb.  Kid.

The other example I have of my sweet and simple trusting nature (at least when it comes to Disney movies) stems from my repeated viewing of The Lion King when I was six years old.  My took me to see that movie at least five or six times because my grandma was really sick and my mom was pregnant with my sister, so he got to entertain me.

After one such viewing, we were driving (I think to the supermarket), and I was looking at my new Lion King trading cards (all of which I still have).  I found one with a photograph of a warthog.

“Look!  It’s Pumbaa!”  I showed him.

“It is!  You better not call him a pig or else he might charge you!”

That, of course, was a reference to Pumbaa bowling into those hyenas that called him a pig, but as a young and embarrassingly naive little girl, I didn’t realize that.  Thus began the next five years of actually believing that warthogs understood the word “pig.”

When you think about it, it isn’t much of a stretch.  I mean, dogs understand “sit” and “fetch.”  Why couldn’t a warthog understand the word “pig?”  Not that I’d ever get brave enough to actually go up to a warthog and yell “PIG” at him, but still.

Speaking of yelling things at animals, I had a friend who was absolutely convinced that if you yelled at an emu, it would fall over and die.  Fortunately, I never bought into that one.  But the warthog thing?  Oh, that lasted forever.


There I am, watching my Disney and believing every life lesson those characters taught me.  You can tell from the blank look on my face that there is absolutely no brain activity going on in this picture.

So there you have it.  My childhood in a nutshell.  I like to think that today, I’m a little wiser and a little less gullible, but then again, I want to write for a living.  Maybe wisdom and reality are simply beyond my reach.