Category Archives: Life

The Death Nut Challenge

There are times in your life when you just have to make a bad decision. At least, what some would call a bad decision. Some (most) of those involve pepper sauce. If it’s spicy, I want it. I once ate so much straight habanero sauce that I basically pepper-sprayed myself. And that my friends, is where the Death Nut Challenge comes in.

Once again, we can thank Richard for this. He sent me a message with a picture of this box, asking if I was in. Seeing as how I always wanted to try the One Chip Challenge, I was most definitely in. What is the One Chip Challenge? I’m gonna turn this one over to Dan Ryckert.

I’m proud to say that I’m a little more Daniel Bryan than Dan Ryckert in my tolerance of spicy things, as was evidenced by the results of the challenge. Charlotte had told us from the beginning that this was a bad idea, and Richard’s sister (who wanted to be there for the debacle) questioned the decision to do it before we were trapped in a tiny plane. We cared not for such dire predictions as we cracked open the box, got out cups of Blue Bell ice cream, and prepared for battle with the hottest nuts ever.

According to the rules, you had to wait 90 seconds after each nut, with no drinks or food of any kind to dampen the spice. I knew it was going to hurt, but I am a total bro when it comes to extreme spice. My favorite wings to eat – with Richard, surprise surprise – were the Wings n’ More Super Caliente wings in College Station. And so we began.

Peanut #1 was ghost pepper with Carolina Reaper powder. Not as spicy as I expected, honestly. In fact, I could see myself snacking on these in front of the TV or while writing.

Peanut #2 was a bit spicier with Scorpion Butch-T peppers and Reaper powder. Still manageable, though I did notice a bit more of a tingle in my mouth. It was my first experience with the Scorpion, and they’re a bit sweet, it seems.

Peanut #3 was Carolina Reaper peppers, Chocolate Bhutia, and more Reaper powder. Also my first time with the Bhutia and I definitely tasted the chocolate. I was also feeling some serious burning on my tongue. Weirdly, the burning was on the sides of my tongue and not the center. It was at this time that Richard’s son started to heckle his dad. He kept up a steady stream of trash talk through the rest of the challenge, which was hilarious because it took my mind off the next nut.

Peanut #4 was when things started to get real. Carolina Reaper Peppers, 7-Pot Douglah, 7-Pot Brain Strain, and the ever-present Carolina Reaper powder. It was at this point that my eyes started to water and Kleenex was delivered. Richard had begun to sweat. It was extremely difficult at this point to resist the siren song of the ice cream before me but I held strong, knowing the end was near.

Peanut #5, AKA The Death Nut, was Pepper-X peppers, Carolina Reaper peppers, Moruga Scorpion peppers, all rolled in what looked like a quarter inch of Reaper powder. I threw it in my mouth and started to chew. Friends, that was the spiciest thing I have ever eaten apart from some homemade pepper sauce from an Ethiopian restaurant. My eyes were watering more, my nose was running, and my face was bright red. Swallowing the thing was difficult and my stomach gave me a grumble of disapproval as I waited the full 90 seconds before digging into my ice cream like it contained the secret to alchemy.

It was almost 30 minutes before my mouth stopped burning. I took an antihistamine in the hopes it would counteract my runny nose, and Richard’s sister freaked out every time my hands got close to my eyes. Before we got to the Mediterranean restaurant, though, I was already thinking of the nuts with fondness and Richard’s son proclaimed me the winner of the Death Nut Challenge.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t have any digestive side effects from this little adventure. I expected to be in a fair amount of pain the next day, but my stomach reacted worse to the habanero pepper-spray incident. I think I’ll do it again with Version 2.0 just so I can Snapchat it. Because that’s exactly the kind of crazy you can expect when it comes to me.

If you want to try your own Death Nut Challenge, you can buy version 1.0 here  or version 2.0 here for the princely sum of $15 and a nominal number of tastebuds.

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Becca Don’t Fly – Tiny Plane Edition

img_4722Last week I was very sick. I started feeling bad Monday afternoon and swore up and down that I wasn’t sick. Tuesday I went to work and attempted to stay in spite of feeling like death. The doc I was working with called the practice manager and got the green light to send me home. Checkmate, I guess.

I spent three days at home, alternately having a sore throat and having a fever. I went and got antibiotics, which upset my stomach, but I was determined to make it to the Houston Half.

While I was in bed trying to will my sickness to leave my body, I got a text from my friend Richard who is literally the one person in my life with the power to make me do questionable things. He asked if I wanted him to come up in his plane and pick me up for the race. I weighed the options of being terrified of flying versus not wanting to drive 4 hours when I felt awful, and agreed to being picked up.

img_4709That is how I ended up sitting at a very small airport on Saturday afternoon with my gear bag, my hands shaking and my eyes darting from side to side. When my buddy pulled up in his plane, I was a bit alarmed. It was smaller than I expected and very delicate-looking. I was further alarmed when I saw it had a propeller. Richard threw the gear and my computer in the back seat while I put my seatbelt on very tightly and made sure the door was locked. He fitted me with a headset and checked all the little switches and knobs, then we taxied out while he told me his plan for plane failure. I thought I couldn’t get more alarmed, but then we took off.

I have never been a fan of takeoff or landing in any plane, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were both going to die in a mildly fiery crash, so the Andrew Bird song “Fiery Crash” kept playing in my head. We got into the air safely, though, and once it had been confirmed that I wasn’t going to pass out I was on my way to Houston.

Ascending to 5500 feet was a little scary, but once we were at cruising altitude I could relax a little. I still became alarmed when he got a drink of water but I’m just a nervous person. It was really interesting being in the cockpit for a change. Listening to the COM chatter was also interesting, though I had a terrifying moment when a skydiving pilot had his finger on the button and was yelling “everybody out!” That is not something I want to hear when my pilot is fiddling with knobs. Not even a little.

Watching the sun go down was actually really awesome. I was a little afraid that if I looked too far to the right I’d tip the plane over but it didn’t stop me from taking pictures of the sunset. I’ve never been in a plane where I was able to see so much of the ground as we moved over it. Usually we’re above the clouds so I read or type the entire time. We’re also usually in a bigger plane so the little shifts from the wind aren’t scaring the hell out of me, but it’s a trade off.

img_4714When we got within visual range of Houston, it was a pretty cool sight. This may be one of my favorite pictures from the flight. Landing was actually less scary than in a commercial jet (apart from when we had to turn to access the runway), because I kept thinking “we could totally survive a crash from this height.” Richard apologized for the bumpy landing but I thought it wasn’t bad. I didn’t feel the need to get hammered, so it was all good. It definitely was better than my last terrifying flight because this time everything was being explained to me and I got to listen to updates from the tower, and honestly I have more confidence in Richard’s abilities as a pilot because he is literally the smartest person I know.

The flight home was a little better, with the exception of takeoff because when all is said and done I’m still a huge weenie. There was a little more wind so I had a few frantic moments, but for the most part I enjoyed it.

img_4724I have a feeling that if I flew more in the tiny plane I would be a lot better about it, but for now let’s just be glad that I didn’t have a panic attack, and that my boss didn’t tell me about his terrifying experience in a small plane before I left. Someone at work said I had a lot of balls riding in the tiny plane. I have to answer that with a big ol’ NOPE. Also good to know for next time? I can totally bring booze on the tiny plane!

Leaves Book Signing

img_4680I had an amazing time at the book signing on Saturday! Leaves is a cute little tea shop in the Near Southside area of Fort Worth, which is becoming more and more artsy and fun. I was excited to sign books but also excited to meet other local authors.

My table mates were Michelle Marlow, Wanda Means, and Mike Baldwin, an eclectic group if ever there was one; multi-genre, memoir, children’s book, and historical romance. Yup, I’m the nerd.

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I was relieved that people showed up and bought my books. As a newer author (with anxiety) I’m always terrified of being rejected but everyone seemed really nice! I sold all the copies of Sam that they had on the shelf and they had to restock. Which, awesome.

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Leaves also has some of the best tea ever. They gave all the authors one free tea of our choice and after smelling Wanda’s butterscotch tea there was no question about which one we’d all pick. As a sweet tea enthusiast, I rarely drink unsweetened tea but this one didn’t even need sweetener! It was very butterscotch’s and nice, and I would love to have more. It would probably be fantastic as a latte!

I didn’t have room to set up all my stuff but the most important stuff was on display, which was really all that mattered. I was expecting to just display The Search for Sam but this worked fine. I felt a little over-prepared armed with my promo cards, business cards and business card holder, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

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At the end of our time, there was a book reading by the other authors and while I am far too nervous to do a reading, I enjoyed hearing the others. In fact, I bought Wanda’s memoir and subscribed to her podcast because I was so blown away by her reading. Look for a review soon because…wow.

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All in all, I had a great time. I’m looking forward to going again next year if they’ll have me, and maybe the Fort Worth BookFest too!

Arts Goggle 2018

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Guess who’s going to be hosted by a local bookstore this weekend? Arts Goggle is an annual local celebration of all things eclectic that takes place in the Near SouthSide and Magnolia districts of Fort Worth. I’ve been a couple of times and sampled a spinach grilled cheese, deep friend whole okra, considered a ride in a pedicab, got instructions on how to make my own terrarium, and listened to some live music. One year there was a booth where you could screenprint your own t-shirt, and there’s been a graffiti wall where you could spray paint to your heart’s content.

For the second year, Leaves Book and Tea Shop is having an event where they’ll be hosting local authors and I was accepted to participate! I’m taking three titles with me – Drowned History, Only a Rogue Knows, and The Search for Sam – and will have them for sale at the shop all day. Not only that, but I will be in the shop from 4-6 PM to sign books, meet people and generally have a massive internal panic attack. I wonder if they’d let me bring a glass of wine or a flask. Either would be suitable.

So if you’re local, mark it on your calendar! October 20th from 4-6 PM at Leaves, and I’ve placed the address below just in case:

120 St Louis Ave
Fort Worth, Texas 76104

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October is shaping up to be another September!

And I might have just committed to writing a book set in the early 1930’s.

Becca DEFINITELY Don’t Fly

Downtown Charlotte

I hate flying, as we have established. This probably goes a way toward explaining why I was sitting at my gate on Sunday getting hammered, but the rest of the trip was fantastic.

The conference itself was wonderful. I learned a lot, got to pet strange cats, and loaded myself with free swag that included a laser pointer and a mini lint roller. Cat conferences rock. I don’t know which part was better, my in-room jacuzzi or seeing a dear friend from Chicago for the first time in 10 years.

The jacuzzi in question

After the draining experience of taking two rather bumpy flights and a cab ride that probably shaved another five years off my life followed by a trek from the convention center to my hotel, I did not feel like going out for dinner. I used Uber Eats for the first time and discovered an amazing restaurant called Teriyaki Madness that was so delicious I ended up ordering it every night. It’s always nice eating in a hotel room because you don’t have to do the dishes and in my case I got to eat my dinner on the couch (yes, my room had a couch) without feline assistance.

Downtown Charlotte at night
My hotel was only about 2 blocks from the conference so after my last session I collected my things, checked out, and took my first-ever Lyft to the airport. Let me tell you, that was an excellent experience. The guy was friendly, drove fast but not terrifyingly so, and it cost about half what the cab ride did, even with tip.
A Cosmo at Gate 24

Technically you aren’t supposed to leave the bar with alcohol but I gave the bartender a good tip and went to my gate to drink. Three hours after we were supposed to take off, we re-boarded and I started having a slightly tipsy anxiety attack. I was convinced we were going to die but I honestly didn’t care as much. At least until we started to land and the booze wore off.

Then, after everything, I managed to get sick. Someone was coughing on the plane and I have a terrible immune system so I ended up coming home from work early yesterday and going to the doctor. She said it’s a virus, so much like the terrifying plane ride I just have to ride it out. The clouds do look pretty from above though.

The view from my last flight

September Forever

I was on the plane having a minor panic attack over the turbulence and weighing the options of spending $7 on a tiny cocktail when it occurred to me that last year I was at my conference when Every Rogue’s Heart blew up.

I say blew up, because I’d never had anything I’ve been involved with come close to reaching this level of success. I watched it climb the entire time I was at SWVS (the annual conference I have attended for the last eight or so years) and I spent my downtime in my hotel room working on Book One of the Night Lodge series feeling pretty damn good about life.

This month I released The Search For Sam and it has also done better than I could have hoped. I’m sure a lot of the success of ERH can be attributed to the amazing women I was working with, so for a book that I wrote alone, promoted and published on my own to reach the top 100 in 20th Century Historical when I’m such a new author is amazing.

It’s only fitting I guess that my success has come in the same month as last year’s amazingness, and I fully intend on continuing to spend my downtime in my fancy hotel suite finishing A Christmas Reunion. This year is a different conference that takes place in a different state so I had some downtime in airports as well to work on things.

On the subject of Night Lodge, I plan to release the first book next summer. I’m hoping to release a new book around this time next year, this one closer in time to Drowned History so hopefully this upward momentum continues! It would be amazing to break the Top 50 next time.

Becca Don’t Fly

As we speak I am sitting at a boarding gate waiting for my plane to start the terrifying process of boarding that will lead to the equally terrifying process of getting on multiple planes today. I do not fly well.

Years ago, I enjoyed flying. We are talking decades at this point. It was cool to be up in the air going super fast and seeing the clouds from above. Way cooler than being stuck on a Greyhound bus with my cousins.

Then…anxiety.

When I was 14, I went to Italy for an exchange trip. It was my first overseas trip and I was looking forward to it. It was a long flight, so I brought a nice thick Stephen King book along with me. It got dark partway through the flight and I started reading The Langoliers. In retrospect this was a bad idea.

We just happened to be over the ocean in the middle of the night, making it a dark, wide expanse, when I read the bit about there being nothing under the plane in the book. Instant panic attack. I was anxious the entire rest of the flight and I still haven’t recovered.

I’m focusing on my destination, which is an amazing opportunity for me. I’ve wanted to go to this conference for almost fifteen years and I’m sure once I get there I’ll be fine. However, two planes are involved and I am not here for it.