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Keeping it Real

First off, I want to start out this blog entry with a huge thank you to all of you readers out there who take the time to review, ‘like’ my author page, and email me pertaining to my books. Feedback is greatly appreciated, whether it is positive or constructive. One of the best ways to improve is hearing from others about my work! So, to get this started, THANK YOU!

Tying in to feedback, I want to broach the subject of the realism in Through Smoke and Backfire: The Sequel to Through Smoke. I’ve had a couple of people get back to me with concerns of the language used within these books. A few have said that the language was a bit harsh and inappropriate for the story. That is definitely an understandable concern. I have thought about this common thing that is brought up in emails to me. I want to apologize to those who didn’t like it. But I’d also like to explain why I wrote them the way I did.

I want to keep the story as real as possible.

I don’t want you all to think I’m handing out an excuse. I’m being truthful when I say I’m keeping it real. I grew up around firefighters and emergency personnel. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but they tend to have mouths like sailors. It’s almost like it comes with the job. I guess there really isn’t a 100% certain reason as to why this happens – I just know that it does happen.

Think about the TV show Rescue Me. Yes, it’s a fictional show about the FDNY. Denis Leary was the creator/writer/producer etc etc…. However, to not ramble, he has family who is also in this kind of business. If you’ve ever even seen just five minutes of this show, you’ll see that the language is even worse than what I’ve done in my books… It is what it is. I don’t want someone getting back to me and say that the book isn’t how the real thing is.

So… when asked why I felt I needed to put that type of language in my books, the quick and simple explanation is that I want it to be as REAL as I possibly can. Again, I apologize to those who found it offensive and unnecessary. I hope that you can still find enjoyment in the plots in the books and the writing. I keep you all in mind when I’m writing new material – your concerns and feedback do not get ignored, I promise you that!

I appreciate each and every one of you – yes, even those that do not enjoy what I put down into words. You all make me a stronger writer. I couldn’t ask for better readers!

Happy reading to you all, and I hope a wonderful book is in your near future!


Do What You Do

I’ve learned that a lot of people don’t know this general fact about me – I’m a runner. Just to be clear… I’m not a major track star and have never claimed to be, but I love how it makes me feel! Back in my high school days I ran cross country and man, I’d kill to be able to run how I did back then. Regardless, I’ve been on a good routine since the beginning of May – I invested in a heart rate monitor and watch that allows me to keep track of my runs as well as how many calories I’m burning and my target heart rate zones.

I know many work out professionals say not to harp on the numbers. Don’t weigh yourself, don’t look at the calories…. Blah blah blah. But then you have some individuals who tell you to look at that stuff, so it’s a constant circle of do’s and don’ts that the runner gets so confused by. Personally, I just do what I do and stick to what I have planned for myself. I like to track calories just to gauge how much effort I’m putting into the work. I do NOT look at the scale, seeing as muscle weighs more than fat and people who are exercising get so discouraged when they hop on and see the number climbing, rather than getting smaller. To those who have done this, remember that your fat is being replaced by muscle, and muscle means you are toning up. Always go by inches lost, not weight lost. This is another reason I cannot stand the BMI scale, because athletes always fall into the ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ category, and that is definitely NOT true!

To get to my point – You just have to do what makes you happy. Hop on that scale, count the calories, whatever floats your boat. Just don’t get discouraged a few weeks in when things aren’t going the way you had hoped. You have to be realistic about your goals. You aren’t going to lose two pants sizes in a week.  I’ve seen this inspirational picture flying all over Facebook lately that says:

It takes four weeks for you to notice a change,

8 weeks for your friends and family,

And 12 for the rest of the world.


I know this can be easier said than done, and I’ve had moments where I have to ask questions. I am definitely seeing a more fit person in the mirror, and people are even asking me what I’m doing. And it’s the end of July, so yes, it does take time.

On a side note, back to when I was talking about doing what makes you happy, I have to mention people in this town and their reaction to seeing someone running on the side of the road. They act like I’m some alien. Rather than slow down for the pedestrian, they speed up. Today I was jogging on a country road (I have my phone and pepper spray with me for security), some dude in a white car drives by and honks. I just have to tell myself that I’m out there, capable of doing what I do. If people want to frown down on my hobby, let ‘em! I do this for me. My confidence has been up and I’m wearing amazing clothing and feeling amazing in them! As for the guy who honked… should I be flattered? I –am- that hot chick out there keeping her figure a 10! Hah, just kidding… I’m not NEAR that arrogant!

Whoever stumbles across this blog, I hope you find success in whatever it is you choose to do, whether it be working out, writing, or whatever your hobby may be. Stick with whatever it is. Just like everything in life, it takes time!

My Best Friend.... My Hero.... My Angel

Hello world. I have been M.I.A. again, for what seems to be the hundredth time. You are all probably thinking (those of you who have been faithful enough to stick around during my long silences) what the heck happened THIS time? To put it short – a major life changing event took place in March – March 1st to be exact. 
Without going in to too much detail about the events that transpired, my father passed away from a sudden illness on March 26th.  This is the first time I’ve actually sat down and put my thoughts together enough to write them all out.  Since this blog is very public, I am going to keep a lot of it to myself, but for those who are curious, it was a lung disease.  We are still waiting on the final report from the doctor to know exactly what it was, for genetic purposes so my siblings and I can be careful.
While the possibility of it being genetic lingering around, it could also be an environmental factor.  My father was a firefighter/lieutenant with the Woodrow Volunteer Fire Department for 17 years.  He also worked refrigeration for a long time before becoming a paramedic.  Those are two very high risk jobs where he was breathing in some of the most awful things that could tear a person’s lungs up.  Let’s just say, we are anxiously awaiting the call from his pulmonologist. 
There is so much to this story and what happened during those short 26 days that at the time, seemed like a lifetime.  Eventually I will map it all out and write it down, but with it only being May, the wound still seems too fresh to do that.
He would be turning 55 next Saturday, May 18th.  While he was only on this earth a short time, he impacted so many around him, from his children, his wife and other family, to those he worked with at the fire department and EMS station.  He was an instructor for EMS for several years, and seeing some of the students he taught years ago at the funeral spoke volumes on how highly he was favored by those who came into his life.  I always knew my father was an amazing man, but the day of the funeral was an awesome awakening.  We were the third vehicle in line behind the funeral escort and ambulance (he was transported by that, not a hearse) and I looked back and saw just how long the procession was.  If dad had been around to see that, he would’ve been blushing.
For anyone that knew my father and saw my interaction with him would say that my attitude was just like him.  It used to bug me when people would say that.  Not that I didn’t want to be like him, but I felt like I needed to be my own person.  Now when my mom tells me I flashed a certain expression that he always did, or said something that sounded like him, I’m proud.  He was my best friend.
For now, that’s all I have in me to write about right now.  Maybe one day I can sit and write out what transpired in March of 2013, up until my dad was called home.  I just can’t do it right now.  This is my short explanation of why I’ve been on hiatus from my writing.  I’m slowly creating “new normal” that I’ve got to get used to.    
Now it’s time for a cliché line, but you knew it was coming – Love those around you. Cherish every second you have with them.  One day you will wake up and only have those memories of things you once shared, and if you loved like crazy, laughed, and always let your feelings be known to the other, the memories will bring a smile to your face. 
What keeps me strong is knowing that Daddy is always with me. I’ve seen subtle signs reminding me of that, as well as him letting me know that he is okay.  I will see him again one day.  His passing was not a goodbye – it was a see you later. 
I hope you are all doing well! Happy spring…. and may you all be blessed. J

Why Go Free ?

This past week has been amazing in regard to my books.  Through Smoke went free on Monday, February 4th and was free through the 6th.  I run freebies from time to time to try to get some exposure, but this particular promo had perfect timing.  It was a great experience.  While the downloads came in, that was a great feeling, but the best part of it all is knowing how many new readers I’m gaining.  My author page had several new ‘likes’ and I have received several emails.
As a writer, it is a natural high to hear from people who read their material.  Each download that showed up on my sales report meant a possible person who might like my stuff. Of course, it could be a complete 180 and it could mean people don’t like it – but that’s the name of the game. Not everyone is going to enjoy what you write and publish.  That’s one thing as an author I have to still accept.  Sure, getting that review that wasn’t too glowing stings a bit, but that’s part of the job.  Even best selling authors like Steven King and Nicholas Sparks get those.  (Now I’m going off on a tangent not intended for this particular blog update! Haha!)
This week has officially been the most successful week since I have been published – and not necessarily just downloads and purchases of my books, but the fact that I am gaining new readers.  I write to entertain, and knowing that so many people have my book ready to go on their Kindle brings a smile to my face.  I’m not in this to get rich – I’m in this to offer joy, wisdom, happiness, or whatever other emotion a person might feel when reading Through Smoke, Backfire (Sequel to Through Smoke), Dance With the Devil, or Fight for Absolution.  While these books are intense in nature and can run through every emotion a person can feel, I hope when someone finishes them, they feel it was worth their time (and money). 
I don’t know what made this free promo so successful compared to other times that I ran it.  It could be timing, luck, or both.  Regardless, I owe a HUGE THANKS to all of you readers out there who take their chances with indie authors.  It has become a huge market that has caught on like wildfire, so it can feel like a massive sea full of millions and millions of book choices.  So again, I greatly appreciate everyone who has bought, downloaded, and read my stuff.  It makes this all worthwhile!
Happy reading to you all, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead of you! 

George Strait - Lubbock, TX 1.18.2013

I was blessed and fortunate enough to get to attend the George Strait concert last night! (1.18.2013) As most people know, he has kicked off his farewell tour, also known as The Cowboy Rides Away tour. Just to make it clear, as George emphasized last night as well, that he is not fully retiring --  he is just going to stop his mega tours.  He will still write and produce new music and play at various concerts – whatever sparks his interest.

The concert was bittersweet for me. I have been a George Strait fan for as long as I can remember.  From the moment I took interest in music, George was there, playing on the radio or whatever music apparatus we had at the time.  When I heard the official announcement of his tour, and that our town was the first stop, I –had- to be there.  I’m not usually a concert type of person, but this was HUGE! It really meant a lot to me as well, when he said Lubbock was his first stop because he always has a great time coming to our city.  He stated that he loved coming up and playing for us Red Raiders.  I couldn’t help but get teary eyed. 

We were blessed to even be able to get tickets. The concert sold out at around 30 MINUTES! My brother in law got an early access code, and we bought them the day before. Had it not been for that, we would’ve never stood a chance.  They gifted them to us as Christmas presents… What a great Christmas present it turned out to be!

Martina McBride opened up for him.  She was nothing short of incredible.  I was hoping she would play “Broken Wing” and man, sing it was an understatement.  She sung her heart out up on that stage and got a standing ovation for it.  It was an emotional rollercoaster – she sang highs and lows, from battling sickness and trying times, to being a mother of teenaged daughters. 

King George came out a little after 9PM… the sell out crowd in the United Spirit Arena went crazy as he strolled out from the tunnel and up on the stage.  His first song on his set list was “Here for a Good Time” which set the tone for the evening, seeing as we were all there for that very reason.  After that song, he thanked the crowd and said he was excited to be back in Lubbock and to see all of us Red Raiders. Of course, with true University pride, we all screamed out our excitement at the mention of our beloved school. 

“Ocean Front Property” was next, followed by “Check Yes or No”, “I Saw God Today”, and then “Drinkin’ Man”, which is one of my all time favorite George songs. It is about a man’s struggle with alcoholism and being unable to quit, despite the important things in his life.  He sang it with tons of emotion and it gave me chills.  “A Showman’s Life” and “Love’s Gonna Make it Alright” were next.  He then took a moment to introduce a song written by his son, Bubba, called “Arkansas Dave” and how he would’ve sang it regardless of who wrote it. 

After that clump of songs, he brought out a stool, took it to one corner of the stage, and sat down.  He announced that he had done a first in Lubbock, TX – he had never sat down at a concert before.  He joked around and said he was going to play a slow, subtle tune all alone on his stool, and strummed his guitar for a second.  However, the real reason he sat down was because he was going to map out the beginning of his career, and how the 80’s went for him and his band.  He sang “Blame it on Mexico”, “Her Goodbye Hit me in The Heart”, “80 Proof Bottle” and “Honky Tonk Crazy.” He ended the 80’s segment by playing “Marina Del Ray” – Breathtaking is about the only word I can use to explain how I felt during this song. So damn good.

He moved to another corner on the stage and announced “that got us out of the 80’s, and along came the movie Pure Country.”  The crowd cheered loudly, and George mentioned that someone had asked if another Pure Country movie would be done, and George’s witty reply was “No man, Dusty is dead…” He then quoted the movie and thumped his cheeks, a lot like his character did when he and a band mate were rehearsing on a porch on a ranch in Texas.  He then played “The King of Broken Hearts” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, both songs featured in the movie.

After that, he continued strong, performing “The Chair”, “How ‘Bout them Cowgirls”, “Give it Away”, “Livin’ for the Night”, and the classic – “Amarillo By Morning.” Since Amarillo is only 2 hours north of here, the crowd went insane, and the fiddle player got a standing ovation for his solo at the end of the song.  George looked genuinely surprised and gracious at the reaction his fans gave him, and the song was amazing!! He pressed on and played his new single “Give it all We got Tonight”, which will be released on an album he’s hoping to finish up in a few weeks. 

The concert took an emotional detour when he talked about not really having his tour end so soon, but that he must have had it in the back of his mind because he wrote “I’ll Always Remember You” a few years ago.  He sang that, and I doubt there were many dry eyes in the house.  “Troubadour” was another emotional song he belted out with all his heart, and then he turned the concert back around by singing “Unwound” to get us excited again.  However, he took his guitar off, said thanks to the crowd, and walked off stage, hoping he had fooled us that the night was over.  The crowd didn’t disperse, the lights didn’t come on, and everyone continued to stay in their seats and cheer loudly.

Minutes later, The Ace in the Hole Band and George came back out, and as you guessed, the crowd erupted with loud and amazing cheers that he had come back in for an encore.  I was thinking, this isn’t over.  He didn’t play his signature song toward the end, so I knew we were in for at least a few more songs!

He finished up with “Some Kind of Crazy”, “All My Exes Live in Texas”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, and last but not least, the song he always plays at the end “The Cowboy Rides Away.”

I’m so glad I got to go. George and Martina both sound so great live! I’ve heard singers that can’t belt a tune to save their lives unless it is auto tuned.  Not the case at all with these two talented performers! It was emotional.  At least it’s not a full retirement, but it’s likely his last time in Lubbock.  I witnessed history last night and I couldn’t have gone with a better group.  My mom, dad, and sister were right there beside me, watching greatness right before our eyes. As the stats say, he’s had a top ten single every year since he has been singing. No other singer has –ever- done that! This is why we call him KING GEORGE.

Safe travels on the rest of your tour, George, and may GOD BLESS YOU! Thanks for being an inspiration in so many people’s lives!