I’m With the Mockingjay

This past weekend once again found my family and me in Lubbock.  You may or may not know this, but Lubbock and I… Well, we don’t really get along.  For some reason, every time I go out there, I have the worst luck.  I get abandoned at an airport, I get sick, the fire alarm goes off at my hotel (because there’s actually a fire), I get snowed in… I don’t know what it is.  Lubbock just doesn’t seem to like me.

I wasn’t going to let that get me down, however, because this weekend, my sister starred in an opera (as a demented eight-year-old) called The Turn of the Screw.  Y’all, this was a seriously creepy show with some incredibly talented singers.  We were all blown away by the performances. And I loved it, of course, because it was a ghost story!

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As much as I enjoyed watching my sister act possessed, I think we were both really looking forward to the next morning, when we finally got to see the final installment in the Hunger Games series: Mockingjay Part 2.

Let me just say that I think they could have made Mockingjay into one exceptional movie and it would have been perfect.  I’m not really a fan of this new splitting the last book in a series into two movies.  But the Hunger Games movies are by far the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen, so I can’t complain too much.  This last movie did not disappoint.

So, in the style of all my other movie reviews, I present to you… Mockingjay Part 2!

*** MAJOR SPOILERS. IT’S A BOOK. I’M NOT HOLDING BACK. ***

  • OMG I’m going to cry so much.
  • Peeta!  Poor baby!  😥
  • Aw, Philip Seymour Hoffman.  I wish you were still alive.
  • Commander Paylor!  Woo!  You go girl!  (And we all know you get to be President in the end so BOOYAH)!
  • Hey…. It’s Brienne from Game of Thrones.
  • It’s kind of scary how accurately this parallels what’s going on in today’s world.  I feel like our politicians have done just as good a job of dividing our country as the Capitol did dividing Panem.
  • Aw, wedding!
  • Finnick… 😥
  • You know, I named Sam Morneau in Boy Band after Sam Claflin.  Because he’s adorbs.
  • Wait, she’s stowing away in the delivery crate?  That’s not how it happened in the book.
  • She’s already in the Capitol?  Is this the final siege?  That happened awfully fast.
  • Oh hey, Liam Hemsworth.  I don’t like Gale, but I definitely like you. 😉
  • Also, we totally almost have the same birthday.
  • Okay, people, can we just talk about how seriously adorable Pollux is?  Look at his little man bun and his sweet, expressive eyes.  I think I have a new Panem crush.
  • This is all happening so much faster than it did in the book.  I’m not sure I’m ready for this.
  • Poor Peeta!  Oh, my poor sweet little baker!
  • The siege hasn’t even started and I’m already scared of those sewer lizards.
  • These pods are freaking me out.  Again, too many parallels for what’s actually going on in some parts of the world.  Can you imagine seeing your city, your home, war-torn and deserted?  It’s terrifying.
  • Finnick, why are you smiling?  Is this fun to you?
  • RIP Boggs.  I hate it when the only authority figure you can trust dies.
  • Finnick’s face when he saw his image displayed on TV, just as if he’d died in the Hunger Games!  That boy is giggling!  Oh my goodness.
  • Coin, you are so full of it.
  • President Snow correcting her. HA.
  • Down to the sewers. Nope, nope, nope! There are lizards down there!
  • Oh, POLLUX!  It’s okay my baby!  Please, let me hold you!
  • Oh no.  I can hear them.  Oh no.  They’re coming.  OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.
  • I don’t know if I can watch this.
  • OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO MUCH SCARIER THAN THEY WERE IN THE BOOKS.
  • Oh, I am going to have nightmares for sure.
  • Finnick’s final battle.  What a send-off.
  • Seeing his face on that wanted poster… OMG that hurts…
  • BUT SEEING POLLUX CRYING HURTS MORE!  HIS BROTHER DIED.  THIS IS SO SAD.  POLLUX SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO BE SAD!
  • I think I officially care more about Pollux than I do about any other character in this entire series.
  • Liam Hemsworth is doing a really good job of making Gale even more of a douchebag than he was in the books.  Wow.
  • The march on the Capitol.  This is it.  We all know what’s coming.  Unless you haven’t read the books or have been living under a rock.  Then I guess you have no idea.  But we know.  We know.
  • That little girl crying over her mom.  This movie is SO sad.
  • There it is.  That lone hovercraft.  I have the chills just thinking about it.  We all know.
  • That’s it.
  • I wish I could say I cared more about Prim as a character.  Her death just didn’t impact me the way it did in the book.  I only care about what happens to her because Katniss cares.
  • Coin is such a scary character, because she’s essentially Snow, but she acts as though she’s good and diplomatic and that she cares about the people of Panem.  She doesn’t.  She’s just as power hungry and evil.  And Julianne Moore does an excellent job of portraying that.
  • Her speech.  HA.  We all know what’s coming.  This is perfect.
  • BYE FELICIA.
  • The letter from Plutarch.  This scene might be the saddest one of all, because he was supposed to deliver that speech.
  • HAYFFIE KISS HAYFFIE KISS OMG.
  • THIS IS THE SHIP I NEVER KNEW I NEEDED.
  • Though to be totally honest, I don’t actually think they would ever work out together.  Still, it was an adorable moment because Effie has a huge crush on him and I think he really respects her even though he’d never admit it.
  • I’m glad they made Haymitch more of a father figure and less of a damaged alcoholic.  He was still broken in a lot of ways, but he was much stronger in the movies than he was in the books.
  • So… Haymitch and Katniss go back to their destroyed district… Totally alone… Amidst the rubble…  How depressing is that?
  • BUTTERCUP. Oh no… Oh no… This is another scene I’ve been dreading.
  • I’m sad for Katniss, of course, but OMG I AM SO SAD FOR THAT CAT.  That cat is making me BAWL.
  • Saddest moment.  Sad animals.  Can’t handle it.
  • Peeta!  PEETA!  EVERLARK FOREVER.
  • REAL.
  • REAL.
  • REAL.
  • Peeta is officially the world’s cutest dad.

All in all, I still get emotional thinking about this movie.  Actually, the series in general.  It’s my favorite.  I love it.  I love everything about it.

Though I’ve got to tell y’all, as we were leaving the theater, all just completely wrecked and sobbing, some guy behind us starts singing at the top of his lungs, “SHOT THROUGH THE HEART AND YOU’RE TO BLAME!”  Yeah, that kind of killed the moment.  But it was pretty funny, I have to admit.

Well, I better be off.  I’m going to a NaNoWriMo event at a local library!   Talk to y’all soon!

Halloween Adventures

Well friends, this will be my last blog post until Tuesday at the earliest.  By then, Halloween will have come and gone and I will more than likely be in full blown Christmas mode.  I’m a Texas girl.  It happens.  Some stereotypes are true.

As for this weekend, two of my best friends and I will be road-tripping it (or kayaking, depending on how much it rains) down to Houston for the Texas Renaissance Festival.  A dear friend of mine, James William Peercy, participates in the festival every year (he writes fantasy: The Wall Outside series) and this weekend, the festival will be celebrating all things Halloween, the perfect opportunity to read a ghost story or two!

I have to admit, I’m quite excited.  I’ve been going to Ren Faires since high school, but I’ve never been a vendor, nor have I been to the big Houston one.  I’m used to the one that’s about three times smaller!  But I think it’s going to be amazing.  Of course, I still have a little bit of paperwork/a LOT of packing but I’ll get it all done.  The hardest part of any trip, of course, is leaving my sweet baby Midnight and my birdies, but my mom is going to take good care of them.  This will be my first Halloween away from my sweet black cat!  I don’t even want to think about it.

Anyway, since I won’t be back until Monday, that means that Cemetery Tours will be $2.99 on Kindle a bit longer than I said originally, so go get that book!  Make a Halloween dream come true.

I hope you all have the most haunted and spectacular of All Hallow’s Eves.  Until next time.

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All Good Things!

So a few months back, my good friend and fellow author, James Peercy asked me if I might be interested in participating in this little event called Comic Con.  I said, “Yes, of course!” thinking, Wow, if this could actually happen, that would be a dream come true! 

Well, yesterday that dream came true!

James messaged me to inform me that we will, in fact, have a booth and be selling our books at Dallas Comic Con!

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I’ve never actually been to Comic Con, but thanks to my love for The Big Bang Theory, I like to think I’m still worthy of being a part of it.  I am so, so, so excited, y’all.  This really is a huge dream come true to take part in an event like this!

In other news, I think I’ve finally recovered from that 24-hour-turnaround to and from Lubbock to pick my sister up from college.  Here’s the thing.  I love road trips.  I love driving.  I love Texas.

I do not love Lubbock.

I don’t know why, but Lubbock has it out for me.  You know Murphy’s Law?  Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong?  That happens to me EVERY time I visit Lubbock.  I’m not going to make a list of everything that Lubbock has done to me, because frankly I don’t have the time.  Just know that Lubbock hates me.

The drive out there is kind of fun, however.  That is when it’s not pouring down rain like a freaking hurricane in Florida.  Seriously, I’ve never seen rain like this.  There was one point where a giant truck passed the car I was driving (my sister was with me, our mom was up ahead in a rent car), and splashed this wave of water all over the windshield and I was totally blind for about three seconds.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but three seconds with no vision, going 75 MPH on an overpass?  Not safe.  Not fun.  Very scary.  I really thought that was the end.  Sadly, I wasn’t thinking, “Oh no!  I have precious cargo (AKA my sister).”  I was thinking, “Oh no!  My kitty is going to be an orphan!”

Thankfully, we all made it home safely, if not completely dry.

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Those are just a few pictures from the drive (the dry one, not the one with all the rain).  They’re all very Texasy.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Oh!  And one more thing… Boy Band has remained in the top 20,000-10,000 Bestselling Kindle books for the past almost three weeks.  I am totally and completely overwhelmed.  Thank you all so much.  I’m trying to think of a neat way to thank you all!

Much love!

Road Trip Essentials

Hello, friends.  I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend.  Mine involved a lot of running around, being on my feet, and road-tripping back and forth to Denison, a small town in the Texoma area, about an hour away from where I live.  I am honored to have been asked to participate in Turo’s (formerly known as RelayRides) Road Trip Essentials Campaign (https://turo.com/), so this weekend of road trips really could not have come at a better time.

I love road trips.  Ever since I was little and my family would drive down to San Antonio every summer, road trips have been my absolute favorite way to travel.  Sure, flying is fast and efficient, but nothing compares to watching the world pass by outside your window.  The trees, the buildings, the clouds, and the highway road signs are all integral parts of what makes road trips worthwhile experiences.  Nothing, not even soaring through the sky, compares to the freedom of the open road.  So, without further ado, I present my compilation of Road Trip Essentials.

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Music

Good music is almost as essential to a good road trip as the road itself.  Some driver and passengers get by just listening to the radio, but I’ve never trusted popular music stations to play the music that really makes a long drive what it should be.  A good road trip mix, for me, consists of classic rock, alternative 90s, and maybe a power ballad or two.

A Friend

Don’t get me wrong, driving alone can be great, enlightening, and liberating, but road trips are always more fun with a companion.  That way, you can take turns driving, you have someone to talk to, someone to share snacks with, and someone to navigate while you try to figure out where in the world you’re supposed to turn to make it to the next state.

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A Notebook

Some of the best memories are made on the road, so I always like keeping a journal or a notebook close by to jot down instances or funny moments along the way.  The road is also a great place for new ideas or revelations.  As a writer, road trips have always been very inspirational to me.  The right combination of road, memories, and music can do wonders for the mind.  In fact, it was on a road trip just a few years back that I came up with the idea for a new series.  I am currently working on the first book in that series now.

A Camera

You never know what you might encounter on the open road, so it’s best to be prepared for anything.  Cameras are a great way to capture the world around you, and keep those moments with you.  My camera goes everywhere I go, especially to new and exciting places.

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My friends posing with cameras on a road trip.

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Flowers on the side of the road.

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A Rest Stop

I don’t know about you, but I love rest stops.  Once or twice on every road trip, someone needs to stand up, stretch their legs, re-fuel the car, etc.  These rest stops are usually gas stations or small diners along the road, but my favorites are the ones with snacks and small souvenir shops.  I started collecting post cards on a high school band trip to Orlando, and I haven’t stopped.  I have postcards from Louisiana, California, New Jersey, Florida, all the way to Scotland.  I also love having access to all the snacks I could ever hope to eat.  On the road, you eat what you can get, so no one will care if you want to eat an entire package of beef jerky with an entire bag of Cheetos for lunch.  If you ask me, it’s the best kind of lunch there is!

Snacks

This, I guess, falls into the previous essential.  Snacks and drinks are vital to an enjoyable road trip.  You have a long drive ahead of you.  You’re going to want to stay fed and hydrated.  I personally prefer water, but I know a lot of friends who just have to have their sodas and energy drinks if they’re going to be traveling.  What I don’t consume in carbonated drinks, however, I make up for in chocolate.

A Blanket

Road trips can be chilly, especially if the person you’re with is a little warmer in nature than you.  I tend to fall into the cold-natured group, so naturally, I never travel without a jacket or a blanket.  I think being cold-natured is something of an evolutionary adaptation that comes from living in Texas.

A Sunrise or A Sunset

For me, no road trip is complete without a beautiful sky.  Most of the road trips I take now begin before the sun rises, but several in my past have gone on well into the night.  My favorite road trip I’ve ever taken was a ninth grade band trip to Midland, a small town to the west.  I remember listening to “Good Riddance” by Green Day and driving directly into the setting sun.  It was one of the most incredible moments of my life, simply because, at that moment, everything seemed right.  Watching the sun rise or set from a new perspective is my absolute favorite part of any road trip, even more so than the destination itself.

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You may have noticed I left out the essential Good Book.  I believe books are vital to any trip, especially for longs nights in hotel rooms.  Traveling, however, I can never seem to focus on reading.  Blasphemy, I know.  But I love to watch the world outside, to live in the moment, and to concentrate on the adventure.  While reading is an adventure in and of itself, I never get a lot of it done on the road.

Happy traveling, friends!

Road Trip Weekend

My weekend of miniature road trips began last Thursday.  I drove out to Denison (around Lake Texoma) to meet a friend for a celebration of art and wine.  All the stores and art galleries stayed open and had wine and refreshments set out for visitors.  I had no idea what to expect, I just knew there would be art and wine.  That was good enough for me.  

I arrived at Denison’s Main Street about thirty minutes early, so I decided to park my car and walk around a bit.  As I strolled, I remembered that I had been baptized in a church in Denison, so I called my mom to find out which one.  Denison is a pretty small town, after all.  It was probably within driving distance.  She told me I was looking for St. Luke’s Episcopal.  I typed the name into my GPS and lo and behold, the church was exactly one street over from where I stood.  

It wasn’t open, and I’d forgotten my camera battery at home (dumb!), but I did get a few pictures on my iPhone. 

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I hope to go back sometime to visit when the church is open.  Maybe I can even attend a service there.  It’s such a cool and apparently historic building!  

After my quick trip to the place of my spiritual rebirth, I headed back into town and explored a few of the stores until my friend joined me.  

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One of the stores I stopped in was called The Book Rack, a huge independent book store that sells both new and used books.  I got to talking to the two ladies working there, and, long story short, they want Cemetery Tours for their store!  I’m so excited!  They also offered to have me come back sometime in the summer to do a book signing!  I really hope that happens, because that would just be so cool!  

After finally meeting up with my friend, we perused a few more galleries and stores.  I ended up with three new books, one from The Book Rack and two antique books to add to my collection.  I met several artists and witnessed some incredible works.  I didn’t sample any wine, sadly, as I had a long drive home, but that’s alright.  My friend and I also stopped in a huge antique store.  We are both big believers in ghosts, so we had a fun time exploring and searching for spirits amidst the artifacts. 

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Around that time, we began to hear thunder rumbling in the distance, so I decided to head out before the weather got too hazardous.  I did get some pictures of the small town sunset, though.

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Saturday was another busy day.  I was up uncharacteristically early, 7 AM, to help with my friends’ yard sale.  It was fun, but oh my goodness, I am so sunburned.  I didn’t even think to put on sunscreen!  It’s still March and it was so early!  Alas, two days later, my poor skin is still simmering.  Lesson learned. 

I also spent some time planting sunflower seeds.  Unfortunately, the next day, I went out to water them and discovered several little holes where an animal (okay, a SQUIRREL) had dug up the seeds and left behind their empty shells!  How are you supposed to protect your poor baby seeds from squirrels?!  I’m going to have to get clever, I think.  

Later Saturday, however, my best friend texted me and asked, “How do you feel about the lake?” 

There is only one appropriate response when a friend asks you to go to the lake, and that response is “Yes.”  So, we drove out to the lake. 

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As much fun as I had, however, yesterday, everything caught up with me.  I slept 12 hours straight before finally dragging my achey, sunburned self out of bed.  Then, I really didn’t do anything except watch Catching Fire and color.  It was pretty nice.  

Today, however, I am very ready to hit the ground running.  I’ve received my first copy of my rough draft from one of my beta readers, so I need to go over her notes.  I also need to get back to writing the new manuscript.  Then, of course, there are emails to answer, reviews to post, and goals to set.  I’ll tell you this much, the life of an indie author is NEVER boring!  

I hope you all are having a fantastic Monday and last day of March!  Beware of April Foolers!