Authorfest 2015

This weekend was incredible.  I was thrilled to be able to participate in the second annual Authorfest in one of my favorite small towns, Denison, Texas.  As a writer, I believe that words are all powerful, but as a photographer, I believe that pictures are worth at least a thousand words.  So here they are.

First, some scenic shots of Downtown Denison.

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Preparing for dinner and a reading at Devoli’s!  It also happens to be part of my favorite winery, Homestead.

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Photograph courtesy of Tim Malek Photography. http://www.TimMalek.com

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Photograph courtesy of Tim Malek Photography. http://www.TimMalek.com

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Usually, I prefer red wine, but this Orange Muscat may have converted me.

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That night, there was another raffle drawing.  I swear to y’all, I have the BEST luck at these things.

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And, of course, there were plenty of books to go around.

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I also got to meet the cutest puppy ever.

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And I spent all the money I earned on wine and new old books including a lot of vintage Stephen King and an old copy of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

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Thank you to everyone who made this weekend such and amazing experience.  Thank you especially to James and Claudette Peercy, who organized and made the entire event possible!

You can find James and his wonderful books here: http://www.jameswilliampeercy.com

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Frightening Flicks of Halloween

Since it is officially October, I will be in full-fledged Halloween mode for the next thirty days.  To begin the celebration, I have compiled a list of my favorite movies and television shows that I like to watch in preparation for All Hallows Eve!  Enjoy!

Let’s start with a classic.  The Blair Witch Project.  I love this movie.  It is so fantastically creepy.  I’m a big nature fan.  I love hiking and I love the woods.  When I worked as a summer camp counselor, there was this creepy old abandoned cabin that we would always pass on our way to the low ropes course.  It was so eerie and I’m pretty sure it will one day be included in one of my future novels.  Woods by themselves are creepy enough.  You can never know for sure what’s beyond the seemingly endless trees.  I think that’s why I love The Blair Witch Project so much.

Though I must admit, the first time I watched it, I didn’t get the ending at all.  My sister got really mad at me.

Suitable for an author of ghost stories, the next movie on the list is M. Night Shyamalan’s spooktacular The Sixth Sense.  I’ll never forget the night I first watched this movie, because it was the same night a string of tornadoes ravaged through Oklahoma City and we were feeling the effects all the way in Dallas, so it was already a creepy kind of night.  I’ll tell you, this movie about scared the pants off of me, especially Mischa Barton puking.  I don’t like puke.  I can’t even handle when my friend’s new baby spits up.  How does Mr. Shyamalan expect me to cope with a really creepy ghost lurking around in Cole’s room and puking?  Anyway, you don’t need me to tell you that this is an excellent movies and one of my favorite shows to watch to get me in the Halloween spirit.

The Omen.  I actually watched the 2006 version before the original, but needless to say, the original is infinitely better, mostly thanks to Mr. Gregory Peck.  I’m a Christian, so the idea of demons and Satan are extra creepy because I do believe in them.  After all, if you believe in one, you must believe in the other.

Okay, so I am supposed to be a mature 25-year-old woman with a Master’s degree, but the truth is, I am a huge kid at heart.  Another one of my favorite ghost stories comes to life with Casper.  I want that mansion.  Seriously, it is the coolest building ever.  And the scene at the end when he comes down the stairs for the dance?  I tear up every time.  No joke.  Great family-friendly Halloween movie!

Another classic, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  I think this was the first Rated R movie I ever saw.  My mom let my sister and me watch it when we were really little, I think because she has a huge crush on Gary Oldman.  This is a beautiful movie.  It’s actually one of the few movies that I enjoy more than the book.  The book is nice and creepy, of course, but I was very disappointed by how un-romantic it was.  Come on, Bram Stoker!  What, do you think I read this for the vampires?  The movie adaptation, however, has everything a good Halloween movie should have; a haunted castle, suspense, a chase scene, vampires, monsters, a creepy tomb scene, and just enough romance to make a girl sigh.

Growing up, I used to be obsessed with all those haunted reality shows on The 13 Days of Halloween or something.  My mom, my sister, and I watched all the specials every year, because they were so interesting.  However, for some reason, I could never really get into ghost hunting reality shows.  That all changed the day I discovered Ghost Adventures.  I’m glad I found them too, because they inspired the paranormal investigation aspect of Cemetery Tours.  Thanks, guys!

You’ve probably heard of these guys.  They do an YouTube series called Marble Hornets, and let me tell you that watching it alone at night is probably one of the worst things you can do.  This web series is terrifying.  Slenderman?  No thank you.

I’ll admit it.  I am a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s earlier works.  The Village is one of my absolute favorites.  At first, I was very disappointed by the “twist” at the end, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate the movie more for what it is.  It’s an incredibly interesting and well-executed concept.  I also loved seeing Adrien Brody play Noah.  He did a fantastic job with a kind of character who isn’t often seen in movies in such a way.

Okay, like I said, I am a huge kid at heart.  No October is complete with a Scooby Doo marathon.  Honestly, I really don’t think anyone ever outgrows those meddling kids or their dog.

Another great vampire classic, Interview with the Vampire.  I love how this is actually an autobiography of a vampire.  It’s not just the scary bits.  It goes into what it would be like to live that life.  It’s fascinating.  It’s a dark, beautiful, mystifying movie that I would recommend to anyone.  Anne Rice is a great author, and one day, I will finish reading The Vampire Chronicles.

My Ghost Story Caught on Camera.  All I can say is some of these episodes make me want to spray my house down with Holy Water and then never go anywhere ever again.  Seriously, even for skeptics, this is a really creepy show.  Real people with real photographs and videos of unexplained figures and anomalies.  It really makes you think.

The pumpkin carving classic for my family, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  This is the movie we watch every year on the day before Halloween.  How anyone can not love this movie is beyond me.

“I got a rock.”

“If you try to hold my hand, I’ll slug you!”

“Awwwwwww!  You didn’t tell me you were gonna kill it!!!!”

My absolute favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie, Signs.  It’s actually one of my sister’s favorite movies of all time.  She is scared to death of aliens, and this movie freaks her out to no end, but she seriously loves it.  The scariest part for me is the scene when you can hear the aliens just outside on the porch, hitting wind chimes as they pass by the windows!

This next movie is actually the scariest in my opinion, because it could actually happen.  I’m a believer in alien life, but not so much in alien invasions (though I am convinced I saw a UFO when I was 5).  I’m a believer in demons and ghosts, but I believe that my faith in God will protect me from demons and if there are ghosts in my house, I’m pretty sure they’re friendly.  The Strangers, however?  Home invasions?  No way.  Feeling threatened in the one place you’re supposed to have complete and utter sanctuary?  Having someone break into my house is probably one of my absolute biggest fears.

So, if home invasions are my biggest real fear, my biggest fake/monster fear is ZOMBIES.  I am absolutely terrified of zombies the way that my sister is absolutely terrified of aliens.  I think it has something to do with them being empty shells.  You can’t reason with them.  You can’t talk to them.  There is no humanity left at all.  That being said, I love The Walking Dead.  I actually began watching it because I’m so scared of zombies and I guess I’m kind of a masochist.  The number of nightmares I have has gone up considerably since I started watching, but you know what?  It’s such a good show that I don’t even care.  By the way, I totally watch for the zombies, and not for Daryl Dixon.

Okay, here’s another movie that you should never watch alone at night.  Paranormal Activity.  Now, I’m not sure how many bad sequels this movie has spawned, but they all sucked.  The first one, however, genuinely scared the living daylights out of me.  I first saw it around midnight a few Halloweens back.  My friends and I were screaming so much, I woke up with a sore throat the next day.

Finally, I saved the absolute best Halloween movie for last… Hocus Pocus!!!  I feel like nothing I say can do this movie justice.  It’s simply the best.  I’ve already watched it once this year and it’s only the second day of October.  I’ll probably watch it at least two or three more times before Halloween actually gets here.  One of my  best friends has actually never seen it, so that needs to be remedied immediately.  How can you live 25 years an NOT watch the best Halloween movie of all time?  Seriously, there is nothing I don’t love about this movie.

You may have noticed that I left one Halloween cult classic off the list.  Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.  While I am a huge fan of the opening number, This is Halloween, I hate to say that I have never been able to get into this movie.  I’ve tried!  Believe me, I’ve tried!  So many of my friends just rave about it!  I guess I’m just not a Tim Burton fan.  I mean, I enjoy Edward Scissorhands and I liked his version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory better than the creepy original, but for some reason, I just get bored during most of his stuff.  I didn’t even try to watch Frakenweenie, however, because the freaking previews made me cry.

Happy October, everyone!

PS – I have sold 97 copies of Cemetery Tours!  Anyone want to help make that an even 100?  It’s on sale!  😉

http://www.amazon.com/Cemetery-Tours-Jacqueline-E-Smith/dp/0989673405/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1380739397&sr=8-1&keywords=cemetery+tours