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A Weekend of EPIC Proportion!

This past Thursday, April 21, I headed down to San Antonio to attend the Friday Night Lights Red Carpet Premiere of Season Five, the final season of this amazing show.  It was benefitting the charity Gridiron Heroes, in which they help football players who have injured their spinal cord while playing.  Here is a link that has a little more information about the event and the charity:

Gridiron Heroes

19 of the show's cast members came to the premiere, including Kyle Chandler, an actor I have been following since the 1990's when I saw him in the movie Pure Country alongside George Strait.  Here is my picture with him:

Me and Kyle Chandler "Coach Eric Taylor" 

It was my second premiere to go to and sadly, the last, since this show is done with production.  I have gotten to talk to Kyle Chandler several times over the years of being an extra for the show but the timing had always been off to get a picture with him.  I told myself that I -had- to get a picture this time.  When we first got there I went to pick up our tickets at will call.  I noticed that Kyle had not arrived yet. His name had not been marked off of the list yet.  So we waited in the foyer near where the cocktail party was taking place.  About 45 minutes later, Kyle strolls in and walks right up to us.  He remembered us and shook everyone's hands.  He reached out to shake my hand and I said, "No, I'm getting a hug."  I still don't know how I got the confidence to do that.  Looking back now, I'm really shocked that I did. I was so glad that he seemed to remember us. Usually it's the fans walking up to the actors but in this situation, he saw us and came up to us. :) 

Kyle stayed and chatted for a bit longer and had to go into the cocktail party.  He was a little flustered (He mentioned he had been all over San Antonio and got lost. His GPS took him to the wrong hotel.)  I didn't want to ask for a picture and fluster him more so he told us he'd see us later and walked away with Brad Leland.  About 30 minutes later I see him walking down the hallway again, stopping to talk to several people along the way.  I knew that was my chance to get the picture.  My friend was a little reluctant but I just knew it would be my last chance of the night and I went for it.  I waited patiently as he chatted with some other people and when he was done I walked up and said "Kyle, can I get a picture with you?"  He smiled and said, "Of course you can!" almost like it was ridiculous that I even thought I had to ask. It was so sweet.  He asked us if we were going to go inside to the cocktail party and we told him no, that our budget wouldn't allow. My friend took our picture and then I took a picture of them together.  We chatted with him about the upcoming golf tournament for his and Brad Leland's charity called Beyond The Lights that will take place on May 13th in Bastrop, TX.  He was glad to hear that we would be volunteering and said that he kind of wishes it will be bad weather like last year.  He said they made more money due to everyone being cramped inside the club house.  Either way, I'm definitely looking forward to helping out this charity as well.  After our chat, he went back into the cocktail party and we found our way to the red carpet to get a good spot.

All of the actors came out and stopped to do interviews and several of them even stopped where we were and hugged us, gave autographs, and took pictures.  I felt so humbled when a few of them thanked US for being extra's and giving our time to the show.  Aaron Spivey-Sorrells gave us hugs and said we were family and that we should be giving him our autograph.  It felt so good to be appreciated.  Kathleen Griffith who plays Margaret Cafferty on FNL was SO nice.  She thanked us for being extra's as well and when I told her I was from Lubbock she mentioned how her husband attended Texas Tech.  I told her I did as well and at the end of the night her husband flashed me the gun's up so I did it back. :) 

The premiere itself was fun too.  It is so surreal to get to sit in the same room as the actors of the show and watch the first two episodes of the season with them.  Amazing.  Also, the production by Gridiron Heroes was a tear jerker.  They presented a van for a recently handicapped football player.  Not just the keys, they even had the van in the room with us.  His mother gave a speech and said that all of us who walk need to stop being so lazy! We need to enjoy our legs! As having a grandfather who was a paraplegic, I understand completely.  On campus, I refuse to take the bus. I WALK to my classes.  

It was such a great experience... an experience of a lifetime.  We all created some wonderful memories that night... one's I will never forget. 

Here's a few more pics from that night:

Derek Phillips "Billy Riggins"

Jesse Plemons "Landry Clarke"

Matt Lauria "Luke Cafferty"

Madison Burge "Becky"

Me and Connie Britton "Tami Taylor"

<<Insert Caption Here>> He was talking to someone about the logo on his cap

This picture cracks me up for some reason.... 

D - Drama

My D word for April is DRAMA!

.... Such a versatile word....

In this day and age drama has taken on a whole new meaning.  There's the famous label of DRAMA QUEEN.  And let's all admit this.... we can all be a drama queen sometimes!  We all tend to overact in situations that just seem soooo bad at the time and later we look back and think, huh! That wasn't nearly as harsh as I was making it out to be!

And then there's the drama we have where there's so much conflict and battle between us and others.  Family drama, friend drama, school drama... etc.  I don't like drama in my life so I won't really expand on that.

Then we have the drama subject that some people take in school.  It is also a writing genre and of course, my favorite genre to write for.  I love dramatic plays, dramatic movies, and most of all, dramatic books.  If there's not much drama in the book I feel that I'm not that deep into it.  I guess I'm overcompensating for the fact that I try to keep the drama out of my personal life. (And I might say, lately I've been failing miserably at that. That's a blog for another day.)

It's safe to say that I love drama when it's not pertaining to my own life.  Fill your books, movies, and plays with it all you want and I'll be in the front row as happy as a clam!  It makes for great entertainment.  Maybe that's why I love psychology so much.  I like hearing about other drama, as long as it's not mine! ;-)

C - Contractions

One question that has been tossed around among fellow writers is the use of contractions.  When is the right time to use them? Is there ever a right time to use them? How much is too much?  From what I have found, it seems like it's all in the opinion of who you are asking.

I've seen traditionally published authors like Nicholas Sparks, Diana Palmer, Lee Child, etc who do use contractions tastefully.  I feel that if a writer doesn't overdo it than it is definitely acceptable.  One area I find contractions especially okay in is dialogue, especially when you have a particular way a character speaks.  In my first book, Modern Day Drifter, the setting is Texas.  If I wrote the dialogue with no contractions whatsoever it would be very unrealistic.  Let's face it -- We Texans (me included) are extremely lazy talkers.  Contractions are spoken everyday in almost every conversation.  Even my book, Through Smoke, had contractions.  Everyone speaks them.

And as stated, if they are used in the rest of the story, I feel they are okay as long as they are used in moderation.  If there were no contractions the flow would be compromised and it would be a little too "professional", if that makes sense.  I guess it's a matter of writing opinions.  I dare you all to think about contractions the next time you are writing, whether it is your blog, your novel, or anything.  You'd be surprised at how much they are used without us knowing! ;-)

Sample of Through Smoke for Sample Sunday

Here is the second preview released for Sample Sunday on my new novel, Through Smoke! This is the very beginning of the book.

 Michael McGinnis thrived in intense situations. In hectic conditions split second decisions were automatic to him.  He was more comfortable in a blazing inferno than in the confines of his own home. Today would be no different.  Pulling up to the fire, a shimmy of excitement coursed through him, followed by brief pangs of fear that he forced aside. He opened and closed his fists, feeling the sweat forming on his palms. His breathing quickened as he studied the building and what floors the fire was already eating away.

Every fire had to be treated as routine, regardless of magnitude or caliber. His first goal was to find out if anyone was still inside. He was part of search and rescue and was first to go in if need be. His eyes scanned the crowd.  There were several kids standing near their parents, older couples and people all alone, all wide eyed and in shock over their misfortune.

He had been on the job for eleven years.  Eleven years of interrupted sleep and unfinished meals.  Eleven years of false alarms and frequent callers.  Eleven years of soot and flames. He wouldn’t have traded it for anything else.  Even if the job had its boring moments, the one call where he could help someone made it rewarding.

He worked for the best fire department in the best city. FDNY. As the motto on the fire engine read, “New York’s Finest.”  He patted the logo painted on the passenger door every time he got in the rig. It was like his ritual.  After everything he and his friends had endured, he couldn’t help but become a little superstitious.

 “I think there’s still some people up on the second floor!” A middle aged woman approached their captain, her voice frantic. 

“Toward what end of the building?” Michael intervened in the conversation, attempting to save as much time as he could. By the look of the fire, it was already spread across the entire complex. 

“It was apartment two twenty-five, near the back end. I saw them come home this evening and they aren’t out here now. I’m almost sure of it.”

Michael headed toward the door but felt his captain’s hand grasp his arm.  “McGinnis, hold on a second. I don’t want you going in alone. We’ve got a probationary fireman that can go with you and we’re getting a hose ready.”

“Sir, we don’t have time. Looks like the second floor is the worst.”

“All the more reason for you to wait.”

Michael could feel the heat blaring off of the structure. Hesitating, he looked at the captain and back at the orange flames that lit up the street like it was daytime.  “I’m going in. I got my radio, I’ll let you guys know of my every move.”  He didn’t allow his superior time to respond and headed in, applying his mask. 

Heat overtook his senses. He had to squint as he entered the threshold of the inferno.  He searched for a way up and luckily there was a staircase made out of cement that was safe to stand on.  He had to crawl, ducking under fallen debris and flame engulfed pieces of wood.  The roar of the fire was so loud that when he yelled out for any civilians he could barely hear his own voice. 

“Is anybody up here?” Pausing, he waited for a response but could only hear the crackling of the wood as the fire ate it away.  “Yell out if you can hear me! FDNY!”

“Up here!”

The voice was high pitched and coming from behind the door the lady had said.  Michael crawled to it and ran his hand up and down the frame to make sure it was safe to kick in.  The knob was locked. 

“Stay where you are and keep talking so I can find you!”

Michael was able to kick in the door after a few attempts.  Smoke lingered in front of him making the visibility next to impossible to see in.  Getting on his hands and knees, he pushed his way across the floor.  Gut instinct was to look in the bathroom. Most victims seemed to always be in their bathtubs.  He went around the corner and came across two kids in the shower stall, both pushed up against the tile.  The mother was crouched near the toilet, tears leaving trails through the soot that gathered on her face.

“Oh thank God!” She threw her hands in the air as if she were rejoicing. 

“Can all of you walk?”

The oldest girl nodded but her eyes shot downcast to the toddler.  “Not her.”

Michael knelt down and saw that the younger child was unresponsive.  He scooped her up in his arms.  “You two follow me. Make sure you stay with me and I’ll get you out of here.”

Both nodded.  The trip back downstairs seemed like an eternity.  Every couple of seconds Michael would glance back to make sure he wasn’t going too fast for them.  He wasn’t sure if his imagination was playing tricks on him but it felt like the flames were getting hotter with each second.  The building creaked and moaned and he knew the frame wouldn’t hold much longer.  He tried to quicken the pace but they both fell behind and he had to stop and go back.  The young girl he was carrying still lay limp. If they didn’t get out soon it wouldn’t matter. They would all be crushed from the cave in.

It had dawned on him that he wasn’t keeping in touch with his captain like he had promised. If he tried to queue the radio he would end up dropping the child.  His legs felt like mush as they made it to the bottom story.  The exit was just a few yards away and he gritted his teeth and fought through the pain to get there.  Letting out a low groan, Michael pushed through the door and landed out on the concrete, appreciating the cold night air.  A couple of firefighters came to aid in taking the girl to the ambulance.  He watched as they guided the mother and the older kid to be checked out as well.

Judging by his captain’s body language he was going to be in for an ear full.  Ignoring everyone, he made his way to the ambulance where they took the family.  The toddler was still unresponsive as they put her on the gurney.  It was a couple of medics he knew and probably two of the best New York had.  Eva Crisante placed a mask over the child’s face and began CPR.  Michael stood back, his heart pounding quicker than when they were in the building.  He had lost victims over his time with the department and while all of them were hard to get over, a child seemed to stick with him a lot longer.

“C’mon Michael, let’s step back.  You need to be checked out by the medics.”  Darryl tried to pull Michael away but he jerked his arm out of Darryl’s grasp. 

“It’ll be okay, let’s go. I’m fine.”

Eva looked up from her work and shot Michael a quick glance.  Her brow creased with concentration and a small smile parted her lips, almost as if she were trying to reassure Michael.  She reached for the back doors and closed them as the ambulance departed from the scene.  Michael followed for a few steps, watching as it disappeared down the block, the siren echoing off of the high rises of the neighborhood.

“McGinnis, I don’t think there’s a need to lecture you about what you did.” Captain Rooker stood near the engine, his arms folded over his chest.  Thankfully the fire was pretty much contained and they just needed to cover the secondary search.  “Good job getting that family out.”  He patted Michael on the shoulder.  “I think you’re just trying to give me a heart attack.”

“Don’t pat me on the back yet, I don’t know if that little girl’s gonna make it.”  Michael adjusted his hat and looked back at the building that was now dripping with water.  A few embers still flickered in some spots but the fire was now controlled.  “We were too late.”

Captain Rooker shook his head. “You don’t know that, McGinnis.  Go get the search done so we can get outta here.”

B - Baseball

Another thing that comes with April and springtime is BASEBALL!!!

If you can't tell, I'm a fan of the Rangers and of course, Josh Hamilton.  The last two pics are mine that I took last June when I got to see the Rangers play the Tampa Bay Rays. Opening day for 2011 was two days ago! The best 6 months of the year have begun.  I hope the Rangers have as much success as they had last year and can finally seal the deal on the World Series.  At least we got to the big show last year... the first time in franchise history!

Not only do I enjoy professional baseball, but it marks the beginning of little league.  My cousin Austin is playing in the Farm League for Cooper Little League here.  My uncle, his dad, is the head coach of the Muckdogs.  It's a strange name and different which is why I like it even more!  Most of the teams have the usual Yankees or Rangers and here we come with our unique name.

Ah, baseball. What an American past time. I love it!

A - April

I decided to go ahead and take part in the April A-Z challenge like last year.  My entries are on a different blog that I no longer have access to due to inactivity. LOL

Anyway, today I have to play catch up and post an A for yesterday and a B for today.  I decided to do something easy for A and go with April.  Probably my most favorite month out of the year.  May is a close second.  I love April for several reasons, one main one being that I was born in April. I'm a spring baby for sure! It's my favorite season.  I love how everything is beginning to blossom (achooo.. Excuse me while I sneeze.)  I can deal with the allergies.  It's a small price to pay in regards to everything finally turning green and getting pretty again.

Spring time in Texas is amazing.  The weather is absolutely gorgeous (with an occasional wind storm that is annoying).  It also marks the beginning of storm season and for those that know me, I'm a wild animal when it comes to dark clouds on the horizon.  I chase storms and tornadoes.  Three years ago I chased a storm system from Texas all the way up into Northern Kansas, near the Nebraska border. If we get any significant weather this year I'll be sure to post up some pictures.

I love the humid feel on my skin.  I love to be outside.  Around mid January I always get an intense bout of spring fever.  The study about how sunshine makes people happy is very true, at least for me.  I seem a lot more friendly and awake when the weather is warm.  I don't have as bad of a struggle to get out of bed in the morning either! ;-)

A is for April -- The best time of the year! :) Happy spring everyone!!