Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rockin' the 4th!

My life’s experiences as an author often wind up in my books. While I’m writing, I let my mind wander wherever it goes to come up with settings, emotions, and dialogue. I free my mind and don’t censor myself. Chances are, if what I’ve written makes it through my own edits, it will stay. Being a writer has added to the quality of my life because I’ve become more of an observer and a listener and everything interests me.

So with the July 4th holiday coming up, I’ve been reflecting on my favorite memories of this celebration. It’s a federal holiday—typically a long weekend for most—which is reason enough to celebrate. Independence Day (commemorating our freedom from Great Britain and the adoption of our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776) is typically celebrated with fireworks displays, parades, picnics, BBQs, baseball games, and gatherings of families.

I’ve had many fond memories of this holiday. My brothers and sisters used to wage war in the neighborhood with bottle rockets. I mean serious war, folks. We had bunkers and booby traps and body armor in the form of hooded winter jackets in the middle of the Texas summer heat. My oldest brother, Ed, once donned a hooded winter coat to protect himself from the onslaught of direct hits. He launched bottle rockets from a Coke bottle pointed wherever he aimed—like a young Rambo—but one blasted out of the bottle and turned on him. A self-inflicted wound. It spun back into his hood and sent sparks flying around his head. He looked like a human torch (except for the weird dance he performed) trying to smother the live round. He could have lost an eye, instead of the singe circle of hair that got burned off his head. This wasn’t exactly one of his stellar moments. Now that he’s a father, giving sage advice to his boys on fireworks, he has real credibility (even though it’s a story he’s never told them). Sometimes I’m amazed he’s still alive.

The memory of my brother setting his head on fire ranks near the top of my list of childhood memories for reason only a kid would understand, probably because Ed survived to laugh about it. But my favorite memory of this holiday came when I was in my 30s and vacationing in Hawaii. I lived in Alaska at the time, so spending weeks on a beach was as close to heaven as I could imagine. My husband and I didn’t know what to expect, but we’d been invited by friends to join them in an annual event they participated in on July 4th. A boat picked us up on the beach near our hotel. I’m not talking about a pier landing. We had to walk into the ocean and clamor—as gracefully as possible—from the cresting waves and into a raft. I should have taken note that arriving at the party onboard the boat, soaking wet, was a hint of things to come.

Every year, a group of close friends launches an all out war on the water between two boats. They make huge slingshots with surgical tubing and launch large water balloons, trying to score hits. Better than the old game, Battleship. The two boats run a parallel course and bombard the partygoers with mega-water-balloons. The battle was a lot of fun, but I will never forget being adrift on the ocean at sunset in paradise with warm water everywhere and the sounds of laughter filling my soul with a contentment I will always remember.

But after it grew dark, the boats anchored near shore. We had the best seats in the house as we watched the fireworks on the beach from the boats rocking on the waves. The dazzling lights reflected on the water and I couldn’t drink enough of that memory in, surrounded by friends and my husband beside me.

My favorite memory of the July 4th holiday was a little unconventional, but most good memories are. With the holiday coming up, how will you spend it? Do you have a favorite July 4th memory to share? Tell me a story.

Monday, June 20, 2011

ON A DARK WING Sneak Peek Teasers

I updated my YA website for my second book with Harlequin Teen – ON A DARK WING. I also just learned it will be released in January, 2012. I’m so excited about this book. It’s set in Alaska, where I lived for years.

Abbey Chandler and Death have unfinished business that started on the day her mother was killed in a tragic car accident, a tragedy the girl had a hand in making. And Death has never forgotten.

I’ve posted the book summary that will be on the cover, plus I have an excerpt sneak peek. Since I can’t post the cover yet, I included images of the story at the top of the book page that I picked just for you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nyx in the House of Night is OUT TODAY!

If you're a fan of PC & Kristin Cast's House of Night YA Vampyre series, you'll want to add this amazing anthology of essays that will enhance your understanding of the popular series.
Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore, and Religion in the P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series offers fascinating discussions on a diverse range of topics to enhance any reader's enjoyment of the series. And this book is beautifully illustrated.

I contributed with my essay on the "Magic of Being Cherokee," that offers insights into the foundation of the Cherokee culture and beliefs that are woven into this series, making the Vampyre lore in the House of Night unique.

"Introduction: Nyx in the House of Night" --P. C. Cast
"Night in the House of Good and Evil: Nyx's portrayal in the HoN series" -- Karen Mahoney
"The Dangerous Dead: Vampire Mythology in the HoN series" -- John Edgar Browning
"By Their Marks You Shall Know Them" (on tattoos) -- Jana Oliver
"The Divine Cat" -- Ellen Steiber
"Reimagining 'Magic City': How the Casts Mythologize Tulsa” -- Amy H. Sturgis
"The Magic of Being Cherokee" -- Jordan Dane
"Freedom of Choice: Kalona, A-ya, and the Raven Mockers" -- Jeri Smith-Ready
"The Otherworld Is Greek to Me" -- Trinity Faegen
"The Elements of Life" -- Bryan Lankford
"Misunderstood: Multiple Partners in our Matriarchal (and Patriarchal) Past" -- Kristin Cast
"She Is Goddess: Goddess Worship in the HoN Series" -- Yasmine Galenorn
"Worshipping the Female Deity" -- Christine Zika
"Cruithne Mythology and the House of Night" -- P. C. Cast
Behind the House of Night Names

Find out more at SmartPop's Nyx page.