Monday Musings

Hi, friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Mine was very relaxing, yet still somehow kind of productive.  I say “kind of” because I never feel like I’m as productive as I want to be/need to be/could be.  But you know, for a couple of days where I’m housesitting two houses, taking care of two cats with medical needs, and writing two books, three different short stories, and designing book covers, it could have been a lot worse.  OF course, just because I feel like I kind of did stuff over the weekend doesn’t mean I can take a break or even slow down.  There is always something that can be done.

For example…

1) Reading and reviewing.  I have several books on my to-read list, and several of those I hope to review as they are written by fellow indie authors.  I finally got to review Heir to the Sun by Jennifer Allis Provost yesterday: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1290975139?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

2) Tidying up.  I am a slob, okay?  Total and complete slob.  I like to think that when I own my future beach house, I’ll keep it nice, but to be totally honest, I probably won’t.  Still, as much as I hate cleaning, I usually do feel a lot better afterward.  So who knows?  Maybe I’ll take the plunge.

3) Designing book covers.  I’m not sure if I’ve told y’all this, but I am redesigning the Cemetery Tours series’ book covers.  I plan on re-releasing the first two with the new covers at the same time as After Death on October 6.  I’ve been playing around with design ideas and having a lot of fun with it.  For those wondering why, I still absolutely love the covers as they are now.  They’re beautiful and captivating and people really like them.  But they aren’t my images.  The photographs on the covers of those books are stock photos.  I’d really like to make the books fully my own, and that means using my own images.  As the release date draws closer, I’ll be sharing the image designs and ideas to get your opinion.  The ones I’m leaning toward right now are actually really pretty, but they still need a bit of work.

4) Working on short stories, not only for submission into anthologies, but for Boy Band!  I feel bad for leaving the story on such a cliffhanger, and to apologize for making my readers wait until December to find out what happens, I’ll be publishing a few free short stories here on my blog until December rolls around!  No spoilers at all.  They’re most stories of what took place before the first book.  Just for fun.

5) Preparing for my sister’s and my trip to California NEXT WEEK!  What?! How did that sneak up on us so quickly?!  I’m not at all ready!  But at the same time… I am SO ready!

What does your Monday have in store?

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A Few Photos

So, I had a long-winded post planned out about the new Princess Diaries movie and why Michael Moscovitz needs to return and sweep Mia off her feet and marry her because he is her one true love and Chris Pine, while very, very hot, is simply not in the books.  Anyone who’s read the books knows that Mia belongs with the dreamy, intelligent, witty, medical entrepreneur that is Michael Moscovitz.  Mia and anyone else, even someone as aesthetically pleasing as Chris Pine, is just wrong.

But I’m feeling a bit lazy on a Friday night, so instead I’ll leave my argument at that and instead, share some new pictures I took yesterday at a nature reserve.

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I also found a baby grasshopper and spider in my sunflower garden.

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Double Feature at the Drive-In

Last night, one of my lifelong dreams came true.  I finally got to see a movie at the drive-in!  And wouldn’t you know it, it turned out to be a double feature!  Two movies for six bucks?  Why doesn’t everyone go to the drive-in all the time?

Well, bugs and rain and really disgusting food, but I’ll get to that later.

All in all, my first experience at the drive-in was super amazingly fun.  I went with a group of my best friends, we set out a blanket, watched the sunset, and laughed about the disgusting food that I ordered.

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As you all may know, sometimes when I go see movies, I like to write reviews.  Not like, actual reviews because I don’t have that kind of depth or patience.  But my own personal thoughts about the movie.  For example: https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/double-movie-day/.

Before I talk about the movies, however, I want to tell you a little more about the drive-in itself.

It is so cool, y’all.  It’s like taking a step back through time.  It’s also set in a wide open field under the stars.  I love being outside, so this was was totally my ideal setting.

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After we parked and set up our blankets, we headed over to the refreshment stand.  I hadn’t eaten dinner, so I ordered a hot dog and some fries.

Big.  Mistake.

The fries were fine but that hot dog?  I’m fairly certain it was just cooked Play Dough.  I’m not kidding you.  It was a weird neon fuchsia color and it felt like plastic.  It also had these weird cooked plastic blisters on it (gross, I know), and when we broke it apart to see what it looked like inside, it was white.  I’m telling you, no part of that hot dog used to be alive.  I have no idea what kind of “mystery meat” nastiness it was, but it was not a real animal.  Needless to say, as someone with a near-crippling phobia of being sick to my stomach, I tossed that plastic piece of grossness into the grass.  I knew I’d made the right decision when even the ants left it alone.

Long story short, if I had eaten it, I’d probably be dead.

Unlike their fake animal byproducts, however, their popcorn was high quality.  Good thing, too, because I ended up not having dinner.

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The experience itself of watching a movie outside is, altogether, awesome.  True, our speakers didn’t work and we had to use the car’s radio, but that’s what you usually do at the drive-in anyway.  Aside from that minor hiccup, I loved sitting out under the sunset, enjoying the summer breeze, and watching movies with my friends. It was simply magical.

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Now.  For the good part.  The movies themselves.

The first movie featured was Disney’s Tomorrowland.  This was not a movie I had planned on seeing.  But since it was Disney and it was a double feature and I was with friends who wanted to see it, I was happy to give it a shot.  It wasn’t a bad movie, but to be totally honest with you, I’m still not entirely sure what it was about.

So, in the spirit of previous movie reviews, here are my thoughts on Tomorrowland in no particular order.

*WARNING*

THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS.  PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Thoughts on Tomorrowland

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* Yay Disney! I love Disney!

* For some reason, seeing George Clooney in a kids’ movie is really awkward.

* This is not the World’s Fair.  This is Disney World.  Do not even try to pretend.

* OMG IT’S HUGH LAURIE. HUGH I LOVE YOU. HOUSE!

* Creepy little girl. Is she a vampire? I bet she’s a vampire.

* The It’s a Small World ride. Come on, Disney. You know you’re not fooling anyone.

* I’d be SO mad if some chick I barely knew tricked me into going to a future filled with scary robots.  I don’t like robots.

* I love this flying sequence.  I wish I could fly.

* I’m still not entirely sure when this movie is supposed to be set.

* Casey, I don’t know why, but I really don’t care about what you’re trying to do.

* Okay, I recognize this whole cornfield sequence from the commercials. It’s pretty much the only scene I kind of understand.

* Is anyone’s little brother actually that smart?  Especially at that age?  What is this kid, five?

* Creepy vampire girl is back.

* The lady in this Disney-Is-Totally-Rubbing-The-Fact-That-They-Own-Star-Wars-Now-In-Our-Faces store is dressed like an odd combination of Princess Leia and Ms. Frizzle.  I’m confused.

* I bet she and her husband smoke a lot of pot.

* Oh no they don’t!  They’re robots!

* This movie is doing very bad things for my robot phobia.

* Are people out on the street not noticing all these explosions?

* OMG the creepy little girl is a robot too!  I knew she was something weird.

* Bathroom break. Also need popcorn since hot dog turned out to not be actual food.

* Casey has managed to break into George Clooney’s house and I’m very afraid there will be some weird I-Used-To-Have-A-Crush-On-You-When-We-Were-Kids-Even-Though-You’re-A-Robot tension between him and the creepy vampire robot girl.

* Eiffel Tower is actually a rocket.  Okay.

* I love how absolutely no one is freaking out about this.  They’re all just taking pictures of it on their iPhones.  If it were me, I’d probably be peeing my pants or something.

* Yay Hugh Laurie is back!  I love him and his sexy accent and Mr. Fine Wine good looks.  Although I’m fairly certain he’s the bad guy and I’m not supposed to like him.

* Actually no, I take that back.  I think the real antagonist here is the human condition.  See, I can be deep too.

* Spacey, sci-fi, robot stuff. Not really holding my attention.  Going to check social media.

* Hugh Laurie giving speech in his sexy accent about how we need to save butterflies and bees. I approve. Yet somehow, he’s still the bad guy. I can tell because his outfit is just too badass for a protagonist.

* More spacey sci-fi stuff.  Disney is really milking the Star Wars thing for all it’s worth.

* Beach?  I like beaches.  Let’s stay on the beach.  Also, why are there so few trees in the future?  See, this is why I’d never want to live there.  I like trees.

* HUGH LAURIE NO!  Why is it always your leg?!

* I KNEW IT!  George Clooney and that creepy robot girl are having a moment!  This is so awkward!

* Robot girl turned out to be a bomb.  This is kind of disturbing.

* Reunion Tower just crushed Hugh Laurie.  Very sad.  He was the only character I really connected with.

* I think I just watched a very long infomercial for innovation.  That’s not a bad thing.  I’m a big fan of creativity and thinking outside the box.  But still.

So yeah, that was Tomorrowland in a nutshell.  It was okay.  Probably not one I’ll watch again.  Robots just aren’t my thing.  I much prefer dinosaurs.  Which is why I was super stoked to see the next movie in the double feature…

JURASSIC WORLD!

Like the rest of the world, I’ve been itching to see the long-awaited fourth installment in the Jurassic Park saga.  I absolutely love the first movie.  I’ve seen it at least a thousand times and can quote it like nobody’s business.  The second and third?  Eh, they’re okay.  But I was expecting big things for this fourth movie.  For the most part, it did not disappoint.  I only say that because as good as it was, nothing can live up to the first one.  It puts forth a decent effort, however.

Again.  Spoilers.  You have been warmed.

Thoughts on Jurassic World

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* Dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs.  Bring me dinosaurs!

* I didn’t know Judy Greer was in this movie.

* Ah, her kid is such a little NERD. Look at all his dinosaurs and space stuff. So cute.

* Older kid pouting because he has to leave his girlfriend for a WHOLE weekend to go see dinosaurs. Wow Zach, your life sucks.  Poor you.

* Though to be honest, if I were their mother, I would not let my kids go to an island full of dinosaurs alone.  I probably wouldn’t let them go period.

* Return to Jurassic Park sequence + Original Score = All the Chills

* BD WONG.  HENRY.  OMG.  YOU STILL WORK HERE.  BLESS YOUR LITTLE HEART.  THIS JUST MADE MY WHOLE DAY.

* Bryce Dallas Howard is their aunt?  That’s so cool.  I like her.  Especially because this isn’t the first movie where she and Judy Greer have played sisters.  M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village anyone?

* Her character in this movie, however, seems like kind of a flake.

* Oh yeah, there he is.  Chris Pratt.  Hello, handsome.  I’ve heard good things about you.

* OMG he’s training the velociraptors!  WHY is that cute?!  Are raptors supposed to be cute?  Or is just because he’s their trainer?!

* I want a trained velociraptor.

* Evil guy who wants to use the dinosaurs for warfare.  I bet you’re gonna die.

* That raptor trying to get at the dweeby guy through the bars. Is that Blue?  Or Delta?  Or maybe Charlie?

* Is it weird that the raptors remind me of my cat?

* NO I DON’T WANT A TRAINED VELOCIRAPTOR I WANT A BABY BRACHIOSAURUS THAT IS THE CUTEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN OMG.

* Dumb kids ditching their babysitter.  You’re gonna get eaten.

* Dinosaur eats a shark.  Where’d they get the shark?

* Super genetically enhanced hybrid T-Rex.  There is no way this will end badly.

* Oh hello hunky Chris Pratt at your rugged, outdoorsman bungalow.  I like that rugged, outdoorsman shirt you’re wearing.

* Bryce Dallas Howard, no! Don’t make him change! Why would you do that?

* Oh look at that.  Your mutant escaped.  #Fail

* And now your dumb nephews are out there all alone with the escaped mutant. #DoubleFail

* Jimmy Fallon is in this movie? LOL

* I guess they’re still “sparing no expense.”

* Guys go out to try to control this escaped super dinoaur and of course, they all die.  Honestly, who would sign up for this job?!  Does it come with really awesome benefits that you never get to use because you don’t live long enough to actually take advantage of them?

* I hope BD Wong doesn’t die.  He’s the voice of Captain Shang in Mulan.  And Howard Weinstein.

* Children.  No.  Do not go off-road in a park full of dinosaurs.  Especially after you KNOW that something has gone wrong and all the rides are supposed to be shut down.  Are you stupid?  You must be stupid.

* I kind of hope the older one gets eaten.  He’s too stupid to survive on this island.  Survival of the fittest.

* He probably won’t though.  Hollywood and all that.

* Mutant dinosaur with lots of teeth.  There is no way they will survive this encounter.  And yet, they do.

* No!  No, don’t let that sweet brachiosaurus die!  No, this is too sad!  I don’t like this.  😥

* That mutant dinosaur is a douchebag.

* Kids find the old Jurassic Park.  The Dinosaurs of the World sign.  The piano music in the background.  I feel like this movie is designed to feed on our generation’s nostalgia.  And it’s working.

* Good thing this movie also has a genius little brother who somehow knows how to fix a car that stopped working at least ten years before he was born.

* Pterodactyls on the loose. Do they eat people?

* Somehow, I feel like this is all those kids’ faults.  I don’t know why.  I just blame them.

* It turns out yes, Pterodactyls do eat people.  At least the big ones anyway.

* Hold up.  Does that Pterodactyl have a Tyrannosaurus head?  What the heck is that?!  Is that another mutant? Are they cross-breeding now?

* Oops.  There goes the babysitter.

* Dumb kids finally reuniting with their hella lucky aunt who just got to make out with Chris Pratt. 

* Tech guy, you’d do better with the ladies if you shaved off that creepy mustache.

Note: Throughout all of this, it started raining so we retreated back to the cars.  I was alone with my friend and her boyfriend.  They were in the front seats so I sat in the back, but I’m too tall and couldn’t see the movie from the backseat.  So I sat down on the floor in between the back seat and front seat.  Oddly enough, it’s a lot more comfortable than you’d think it’d be.  I couldn’t help but wonder how weird it must have looked though.  At first glance, it looks like two cute people on a date.  Then, after a second glance, you see this third person’s head creeping down in the shadows, just peaking out in between them.  That’s how I felt. 

* Chris Pratt is the Velociraptor’s Alpha.  That’s hot.

* Thanks to this movie, I will settle for nothing less than a man who can ride a motorcycle and herd velociraptors.

* I might be single for a while.

* YOU KILLED CHRIS PRATT’S BABY RAPTOR IN FRONT OF HIM.  NO.  WHAT ARE YOU DOING.

* I don’t like this movie!  It’s sad!

* Bryce Dallas Howard lighting up a flair and getting the T-Rex to chase her, I can accept.  But Bryce Dallas Howard lighting up a flair and getting the T-Rex to chase her in those heels?  I’m sorry, this movie is far too unrealistic.

* YOU KILLED DELTA HOW COULD YOU.

* STOP LETTING CHRIS PRATT’S BABIES DIE. WHAT IS THIS.

* It’s the ultimate T-Rex showdown.  I also like how the T-Rex and Blue the Raptor seem to have a mutual respect and understanding that they have to work together to kill the mutant.

* HA!  The giant water dinosaur saved the day!  That was awesome!

* Okay, now that mutant is dead, there’s still the whole issue of having a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Velociraptor loose in the park.  I feel like you just solved one problem by creating another.

* Oh.  The T-Rex and Raptor have achieved a higher sense of understanding and go back home on their own.  That’s convenient.

* You know, I still don’t understand why any of these people think that dinosaurs are a good idea.  Except the baby brachiosaurus.  That is the best idea in the history of ever.

* And the movie ends, as usual, with T-Rex lording over her territory.

All in all, good movie.  I will definitely see it again.  Not as good as the first by any means, but you know, what is?  That movie is a classic, a cinematic masterpiece.  Nothing will ever live up to it.  But this movie comes awfully close.

#BecomeACharacter

Yesterday as I was driving home from the grocery store, I found myself, as I often do, thinking about my next books.  The next Boy Band is going to be a LOT of fun and I can’t wait to really get started on it.  There are going to be new characters, new songs, and a whole lot of new drama.  That being said, I want this book to be special to my readers.  I want ALL my books to be special to my readers, but the first Boy Band has done so well that I really wanted to find a way to make this one as much my readers’ as it is mine.  Thus the #BecomeACharacter Raffle was born.

Here’s the deal.  I want YOU to become a character in the sequel to Boy Band.  There are three names available.

1) A friend of the band from high school.

2) A singer in the guys’ opening band.

3) A full length song titled your name (I.E. “Diana” by One Direction or “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White Ts).

Of course, these don’t have to be your names.  You can name these characters for someone you love or make up a name (Nothing silly though, please.  I will not name my character Macaroni.  I don’t think this will happen, but still, I feel it needs to be said).  These three winners will also receive personalized signed copies of the first Boy Band.

How do you enter?  It’s quite easy!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5d8f214e1/

The site also made me write out some Terms and Conditions, so this is what I came up with.

1. Please be a real human being. Please do not be a robot.

2. If you win, please be willing to provide your email address so that I may contact you about where to send your book.

3. There are three names up for grabs in the sequel to Boy Band: A new friend of the guys’ from high school, a singer in The Kind of September’s opening act, and a full length song written about . If you win this raffle, you get to submit a name (either yours or one of your choosing… You can name characters for friends if you’d like!).

4. Please help spread the word! If you’d like to read the first book before entering, it is available on Nook, Kindle, Amazon.com, and BarnesAndNoble.com! Reviews are appreciated, but not required for entry into this raffle.  🙂

5. Winners will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.

6. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on Twitter (@JackieSmith114), here, or at info@WindTrailPublishing.com.

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So there you have it!  I think this will be a fun things, and it’s open all summer!  I think it ends the last day of August.  Have a good Monday, y’all!  I’m off to see some dinosaurs.

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).

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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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In the Bleak Midwinter

Christmas is in six days.  My general rule of thumb is that I like the cold and the gray and the winter weather (or at least pretend to) until Midnight on December 26.  Once Christmas is over, I can go back to openly hating the winter chill as much as I darn well please.

Okay, so there are a few things I like about winter.  I like hot chocolate.  I like snuggling with blankets.  I love Christmas.  And I actually do like snow as long as I don’t have to drive in it.  It’s pretty.

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Ice can even be pretty.

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The only problem with pretty scenes like this is that they come with temperatures like this…

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That is too cold.  When it’s that cold outside, my face often looks like this…

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Or more accurately, like this…

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Every year I start off thinking that I really do like the cold.  I was born in the dead of winter, in the middle of a snow storm.  I feel like I should like I owe it to winter to try to like it.  But once the initial Yay-It’s-Cold-Outside-I-Can-Wear-Boots-And-Scarves excitement wears off, winter gets really old really fast.  The worst part is IT’S NOT EVEN TECHNICALLY WINTER YET AND I’M ALREADY SICK OF IT.  As far as boots and scarves go, guess what?!  I wear boots and scarves all year round!  I’m a writer who lives in Texas!  Boots are a given and scarves are kind of a thing for some of us.

I’m beginning to feel, in a weird kind of way, that by professing my “love” for winter and denying my love for all things summer, I’m in a way denying a part of myself.  I’m supposed to be listening to Christmas music, but I’ve been sneaking listens to my summer iTunes playlist for the past two weeks.  Even as I write this, I’m singing along to Summertime Guys from the movie Aquamarine.

But when you think about it, all of this is really to be expected.  I’m from the South.  Southern girls love summer. We thrive on sunlight and open-toed-shoes and the smell of coconut sunscreen.  Summertime is also the time for colors and being outside and swimming and flowers.  Honestly, how could it not be my favorite season?

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In my mind, summer equals freedom, and as a writer, as a creative mind in general, freedom is all that I want.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted.  Winter is fine, but I so often feel confined and limited in the cold and the gray.  And come on, shoes?  Who actually likes having to wear shoes?  My feet, like the rest of me, like to be free.  One of my favorite memories is of my first Fourth of July working as a summer camp counselor.  My co-workers and I spent the evening at our friend’s lake house and as the sun set, we ran around playing Ultimate Frisbee in our summer clothes and bare feet.  It was the best Fourth ever.

Winter, I guess, reminds me too much of the real world.  Summer is a fantasy.  It’s a time for adventure.  It reminds me of what I want out of life: mountains and oceans and gardens and hiking and swimming and running and forests and open fields of tall grass and flowers.  I realize I must sound like the biggest hippie right now, but that is what my soul craves.  That’s what it needs to survive.  If I can’t have that during the winter months, I at least need my summer music and pictures to keep me going.  Of course, I have my writing also, which definitely frees me, but I also like to experience these freedoms and moments for myself.  It’s not enough to just write them.  You’ve got to live them too.

So for the next six days, I will love and savor what’s left of Christmas, but in the back of my mind, I’m still anticipating the summer sun.

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Where the Music Meets the Ocean

Note: I apologize for the onslaught of photographs.
Also, the title of this blog post is a lyric to a song by the Zac Brown Band called Jump Right In. It was pretty much all we listened to on this trip.

Last week, my sister and I went to the beach. It was awesome.

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The only downside was that we stayed in a hotel with no wifi. Yes, those still exist.

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The good news was that there was a Jurassic Park marathon on all week.

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But enough about hotels. The trip itself was amazing. We spent a morning at Fort Morgan, a civil war site. It was also used in the first world war.

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We ate a lot of great food.

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For the record, if you ever eat at Lulu’s, they will give you the option of waiting a really long time to be seated or being seated immediately at one of the bars. Guess which option we took?

Also, Lulu’s is owned by the sister of the one and only Jimmy Buffett! How cool is that?

On the trip, we also saw hibiscuses and dolphins.

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We also saw boats…

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A sandcastle…

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A crab…

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A lesser electric ray in a bucket…

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And a lot of herons.

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I’d actually been complaining throughout the entire trip that I just wasn’t seeing any herons. Then, our last night there, we hung out at the big fishing pier and saw no less than five great blue herons! I was very happy.

The rest of the time, we just kicked around the beach, which to be honest, was my favorite part.

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Honestly, there is no place I’d rather be.

Night of the Living Locusts

Okay, I’m going to get real serious with y’all. I hate bugs. Not all bugs. Butterflies and dragonflies are lovely. But the really gross kind? The roaches and the leaf bugs and the cicadas? Nope.

Locusts are right up there with the worst. This is not a matter of opinion. If we go back to Biblical times, we will notice that there was not a plague of butterflies or a plague of ladybugs. There was a plague of LOCUSTS. LOCUSTS are a PLAGUE. THEY ARE DISGUSTING. JUST LOOK AT THEM.

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EUGGH.

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EWWW.

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GROSS.

This evening, as I took a delightful walk around the park, I was thinking about everything I have to look forward to: the beach, book signings, new books, etc… when all of a sudden… A LOCUST LANDED ON MY SHOULDER. I WAS NOT HAPPY. I was even wearing bug-spray to deter mosquitoes who delight in feasting on my apparently delicious blood, but there was no deterring that locust!

After I heroically fought him off (read: screamed, slapped him off my shoulder, and ran away), ANOTHER locust dive-bombed me from a tree! I had to fight off no less than SEVEN locusts on what was supposed to be a pleasant evening stroll.

As miserable as that experience was, however, it was nothing compared to what may have been the most traumatizing night of my entire life.

The year was 1999. I was eleven years old and I was out at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with my friend Bobby and our dads. We all loved going to baseball games. It was one of our favorite summer activities.

That night, we were playing Tampa Bay. It started off like a normal baseball game. We watched batting practice, ate hot dogs and french fries, and cheered our lungs out for the Rangers.

Then night fell.

There were always a few bugs flying around the giant lights of the stadium, but they rarely ever bothered us. I usually didn’t even notice them. I was too fixated on the game.

If this was fiction, I would say that the crickets started swarming slowly, with one or two strays hopping around at our feet. But this isn’t fiction. This is real life.

Without any sort of warning whatsoever, crickets began falling from the sky. One moment, the sky was clear. The next, it was literally raining crickets. It was like an air raid of locusts. I was freaking out. One landed on my arm, one dive-bombed my dad’s drink. They were crunching beneath our feet and flying past my ears. After only a few minutes, I sought refuge inside the halls of the stadium, but one glance at the cricket-blackened walls told me I would find no sanctuary there. My only hope was the safety of the car, and ultimately, my home.

Dodging crickets, I ran back to my dad and begged him to take me home. He refused. He, like everyone else in the stadium, seemed totally unbothered by the onslaught of crickets. I didn’t understand why no one else was going absolutely out of their minds trying to shield themselves from the hoards of locusts. Where was their sanity? Did these people have no survival instincts whatsoever?

Upon realizing I was completely alone in my plight, I began to hyperventilate. It would go down as the one time in my life my dad has disappointed me as a father. There I was, panicking and dangerously close to passing out from sheer and utter terror, and he was sipping his cricket-fouled beer and watching the game! Like nothing was going on!

I’m not sure how long I sat there, waiting for the game to end, while the crickets continued to rain down on us, but finally, finally, my dad said that we could go home. I leapt up and clung to him, certain that with his height and strength, he could protect me from any bugs that may have threatened.

That was until a man tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Sir? You have a cricket on your collar.”

DONE. SO DONE.

Walking through the parking lot that night was it’s own special form of torture. With every step I took, I heard a sickening crunch of multiple crickets under my soles. It is a sound that has stayed with me to this day. I will never forget. And I will never fully recover.

The end.

Sunflowers and Swimming

Hi, friends!

I’ll be honest with you. This past week, I have not been a very good blogger. I haven’t been a very good writer either. I’ve worked on my two books a little bit, but for the most part, I’ve just been swimming and taking a lot of pictures of my sunflowers. These next few days are supposed to be rainy though, so I should have plenty of time to get back to my normal routine of actually being a writer.

Next week, I won’t be updating at all. My sister and I are going to the BEACH and then, the day after we get back, I’m off to Oklahoma for a paranormal convention to hopefully sell a few books!

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As much fun as I’m having with Between Worlds, I can’t forget about my first book. After all, I don’t want people reading the second book if they haven’t read the first! Where’s the fun in that? It’s like reading The Goblet of Fire before reading The Prisoner of Azkaban, which, okay, I did, but that was only because I looked everywhere for that book and I could not find it. I needed more Harry Potter. Not my fault.

Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds have both been selling pretty well since the latter was released. I’m still hoping for a few more reviews, but so far, I’m thrilled with how well they’ve both been doing. I don’t remember if I’ve shared this review or not, but it’s one of my absolute favorites that I’ve gotten so far, so I thought, what the heck? If I have shared it, then I can share it again.

http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/2014/06/cemetery-tours-jacqueline-e-smith.html

Oh, and also, I made a Pinterest board for my sunflowers.

Weekend Recovery

Hello, friends!  Happy Tuesday.  

I’m afraid these last few days, I have been rather lazy.  I spent half the day Friday and most of Saturday up at Texoma, working at a labor of love event at my old Camp.  I had a great time, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.  I especially loved being back at a place I hold so near and dear to my heart.  

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For the record, all of these pictures were taken on my iPhone.  I didn’t take my camera since we spend most of our time working.  

This was my first Labor of Love weekend, and it was a wonderful experience.  It was a chance to work with members of our community, several of whom had been through tough times, and to listen to their stories.  I’m also thankful for the chance to do something good for a place and people that I love as opposed to what I normally do, which is whatever I feel like doing, mostly for me.  

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One of my absolute favorite things about being at Camp is sitting out under the night sky and looking at the stars.  There, away from the city light pollution, the universe opens up, and you can really appreciate how vast and endless the sky really is. It’s a wonderful experience, to just be, to listen to the wind and the trees and the night crickets.  It’s a great reminder that life isn’t all hustle and bustle and money and material things.  

The next morning, we woke up at 6:30, ate a quick breakfast, and went to work.  Our task for the day was clearing out dead brush and tree limbs (and whole trees!) from the pathway to the low ropes course.  There were two separate bonfires for the brush.  One was pretty much the most impressive fire I’ve ever seen.  It was huge, basically the size of a small room.  The other fire, while pretty, was not nearly as impressive.

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Although altogether a very worthwhile and rewarding experience, there are things that happen when you work in the woods all day.

1) You get dirty.  Like, really dirty.  Filthy.  The good thing is everyone around you is just as dirty and smells just as bad as you do.

2) You get bug bites.  Even if you wear bug spray, chances are, you will still come home with bites all over your body.

3) You get scratched up.  Trees are scratchy!  Briar thorns are even scratchier!  I’d rather drag a whole tree up a hill than carry a bush of that prickly mess.

4) You twist muscles that you didn’t even know you had.  I haven’t been able to walk properly on my left ankle since I got home.  Instead of bending outward like I rolled it, however, it bends inward.  Weird.  

5) You come home extra sleepy from all the sun and working and pass out for about 48 hours while your body recovers.

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However, I’m happy to report I’ve come home to all good things.  I will fill you all in soon, I promise!  Until then, I need to keep revising and working on the blurb for the back of the new book.  July 1 is fast approaching!  

Love to all!