Category Archives: Entertainment

Rock Legends Berlin & Asia Set to Headline Grapefest Sept. 16 – 19

Get ready to rock out at the 35th Annual GrapeFest® – A Texas Wine Experience, presented by Bank of the West! On September 16, 17, 18 and 19, festival attendees will experience non-stop live music on four stages during the four days of family-friendly festival fun. 

Friday, September 17 musical headliners include AshenMoon featuring Garry Beers of INXS starting at 7:30 p.m. and BERLIN featuring Terri Nunn starting at 9:30 p.m. 

Saturday, September 18 musical headliners include Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom starting at 7:30 p.m. and Asia featuring John Payne starting at 9:30 p.m. 

Additional live music performances and entertainment will occur all day each day throughout the festival. Visitors will also enjoy a carnival midway and a shopper’s paradise at local Main Street boutiques, galleries and select vendors. 

The 35th Annual GrapeFest opens on Thursday, September 16 at 11 a.m. Admission for everyone is free all day on Thursday. Festival hours are Thursday, September 16 from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday, September 17 from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Saturday, September 18 from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; and Sunday September 19 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Admission prices are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors (62+) and children (6-12). Admission is free for children 5 and under. For more information, call the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau at 817-410-3185 or visit GrapeFest.com

ABOUT GRAPEFEST – TEXAS WINE. COME AND TASTE IT! 

GrapeFest is a celebration of Texas wines. This year’s theme, Texas Wine. Come and Taste It! invites you to sip your way through delicious wines from Texas. This year’s festival guest wineries from California’s Napa Valley and South Australia’s Barossa Valley will also be serving wines to suit every palate. Home to more than 400 wineries and 4,400 acres of vineyards producing nearly three million gallons of Texas wine each year, Texas is the fifth-largest wine producing state in the United States. Grapevine is home to the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association and Texas’ premier Urban Wine Trail, featuring a variety of award-winning winery tasting rooms. 

ABOUT BANK OF THE WEST 

Bank of the West is proud to be an Independent Community Bank, headquartered in Grapevine and serving North Texas for more than three decades, helping to create flourishing communities by putting your dollars to work LOCALLY…with decisions made LOCALLY. Bank of the West, Member FDIC, is the Presenting Sponsor of the 35th Annual GrapeFest – A Texas Wine Experience. 

ABOUT GRAPEVINE, TEXAS 

Historic Grapevine, Texas, centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth, is the premier go-to destination when planning a getaway or vacation in North Texas! Step back in time on Historic Downtown Main Street with a collection of charming boutiques, art galleries and bistros and cafes. Enjoy fantastic hotels and resorts, great attractions for the entire family, a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities, exquisite winery tasting rooms, world-class shopping and much more. For more information, visit GrapevineTexasUSA.com

Classic Movies Entertain Guests in Late July and August at Grapevine’s Historic Plaza Theatre

Classic movies entertain guests in July and August at Grapevine’s Historic Palace Theatre, located at 300 S. Main St. Bring in a same day receipt from any Grapevine restaurant and get a free popcorn at the concession stand! Tickets are $6 per person. Below is the list of screenings for late July and August:

  • Friday, July 30 – “Top Gun” (Rated PG – 1986), 7:30 p.m. Students at the U.S. Navy’s elite
    fighter weapons school compete to be best in class. One daring pilot learns a few things from a
    civilian instructor not taught in the classroom.
  • Saturday, July 31 – Happy Birthday, Harry Potter! Celebrate Harry Potter’s Birthday with a
    movie marathon! Tickets are $6 each or 4/ $20. Come in costume and receive a free popcorn! – “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:” (Rated PG – 2001), 11 a.m. An orphaned boy
    enrolls in a school of wizardry where he learns the truth about himself, his family and
    the terrible evil that haunts the magical world.
    – “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (Rated PG – 2004), 2 p.m. Ron and
    Hermoine return to Hogwarts for their third year of study, where they delve into the
    mystery surrounding an escaped prisoner who poses a dangerous threat to the young
    wizard.
    – “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (Rated PG – 2007), 5 p.m. With their
    warning about Lord Voldemort’s return scoffed at, Harry and Dumbledore are targeted
    by the Wizard authorities as an authoritarian bureaucrat slowly seizes power at
    Hogwarts.
    – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II” (Rated PG-13 – 2011), 8 p.m. Harry,
    Ron and Hermoine search for Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes in their effort to
    destroy the Dark Lord as the final battle rages on at Hogwarts.
  • Friday, August 6 – “The Searchers” (Rated PG – 1956), 7:30 p.m. An American Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from the Comanches.
  • Saturday, August 14 – It’s Elvis night! Enjoy an Elvis double feature. Come in costume and get a free popcorn.
  • “Loving You” (Rated PG – 1957), 4 p.m. A musician and a publicist help a delivery man achieve stardom.
  • “Viva Las Vegas” (Rated PG – 1964), 7:30 p.m. Racecar driver Lucky Jackson goes to Las Vegas to earn money to pay for a new engine for his motor car. Working as a waiter, he still finds the time to court young Rusty Martin.
  • Friday, August 20 – “Roman Holiday” (Rated PG – 1953), 7:30 p.m. A bored and sheltered princess escapes her guardians and falls in love with an American newsman in Rome.
  • Saturday, August 21 – Sing-Along Saturday! Bring your friends and sing along as you watch movies at the Palace Theatre.
  • “Mamma Mia” (Rated PG-13 – 2008), 4 p.m. The story of a bride-to-be trying to find her real father is told using hit songs by the popular 1970s group ABBA.
  • “Grease” (Rated PG – 1978), 7:30 p.m. Good girl Sandy and greaser Danny fell in love over the summer. When they unexpectedly discover they are now in the same high school, will they be able to rekindle their romance?
  • Saturday, August 28 – Join us for Treasure Hunt Saturday!
  • “Aladdin” (Rated G – 1992), 4 p.m. A kindhearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true. Come in character and receive a free popcorn.
  • “The Goonies” (Rated PG – 1985), 7:30 p.m. A group of young misfits called The Goonies discover an ancient map and set out on an adventure to find a legendary pirate’s long-lost treasure.

For more information about Grapevine’s Historic Palace Theatre or to purchase tickets, call 817.410.3100 or visit Palace-Theatre.com.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF YAA HALLA Y’ALL

Swinging their hips in rhythm with the deep, ringing tones of the hand drums, belly dancers in brilliantly bedazzled costumes glide across the stage, striking their finger cymbals and commanding attention. Then a solo performer contorts like a cobra as she mesmerizes crowds with her hypotonic movements. This dreamy dance choreography has been captivating audiences for 20 years in Grapevine at the annual Yaa Halla Y’all – A Gathering of the Stars in Texas, presented by Isis’ Studios and Academy of Performing Arts.

Yaa Halla Y’all invites you to four days of dance and music performances by international stars, aspiring new dancers and musicians at one of the largest Middle Eastern dance events in the Southwest.

Performances will be held at the Palace Theatre Thursday, July 22 through Sunday, July 25.

There are several competitions during the four-day event, with winners earning trophies, cash prizes and a feature article in the magazine Belly Dance Chronicles. Additionally, dance and music seminars will be offered at the Grapevine Convention Center. The Grand Bazaar Shopping Experience will open daily at Noon at the Palace Arts Center where shoppers may browse jewelry, scarves, costumes and much more.

Who is Isis?

The dancer behind Yaa Halla Y’all and Isis’ Studios and Academy of Performing Arts is the energetic and vibrant red-headed dancer known as Isis. In addition to organizing Yaa Halla Y’all and running a studio, Isis is a teacher, choreographer, costume designer, magazine publisher and more.

Choosing to keep her true name hidden, Isis said that her stage name was given to her by an Egyptian and refers to the Egyptian goddess Isis who is the protector of children.

“Many dancers throughout history have gone by their stage names, and Isis is my stage name,” she said. “Some dancers feel like they can’t dance when they go by their legal, birth names. But when they go by a stage name, they become someone else. They are suddenly able to perform and dance.”

Isis said she believes she truly personifies the goddess Isis because she is a guide and mentor to students along their dance journey.

“I tell my dancers performance is not about winning,” she said. “Get better for yourself. Upgrade your feelings about yourself, your skills.”

Origins of Yaa Halla Y’all

Isis began the Yaa Halla Y’all event as a way to bring a variety of music and dance instructors and performers to one location. The studio was not big enough to house all that talent, so seminars and performances moved to the Grapevine Convention Center and Palace Theatre.

In its twentieth year, Isis said that Yaa Halla Y’all reflects the growth of dancers and competition winners because many have gone on to travel and teach worldwide.

“It’s exciting for me to watch all of my students learn from a variety of instructors in classes during this event,” Isis said. “They are getting to learn from top notch instructors at the seminars, and our performances are great!”

The Journey to Becoming Isis

Isis’ journey started when she was looking for a class to help her keep fit, and belly dance was the only class available. She soon fell in love with Middle Eastern dance and moved into a new career path.

“My first seminar with Bert Balladine, and I appreciated his positive attitude, his joy in teaching and his performance,” she said. “I continued to study with top dancers from around the world, and I am still dancing over 40 years later.”

Isis has been presented the Life Time Achievement Award from both the belly dancer magazine Zaghareet! and the Belly Dancer of the Universe  competition. Additionally, she was a feature dancer at Kosta’s Caf (formerly Kosta’s Greek Restaurant) on Bachman Lake in Dallas for 11 years, Byblo’s Mediterranean Restaurant in Fort Worth, Greek Isles Grille and Tavern in Plano for New Years, and at The Mansion with the Gus Vali Orchestra for Mardi Gras. She and her dancers have been featured at Scarborough Faire since it opened in 1981.

“I try to teach dancers to focus on their dance as well as their entertainment skills,” she said. “But it’s so important to build positive energy. I’m not about being better than someone. I am about being your best self; challenge yourself and support others.”

Following her passion, Isis and her husband Del formed the Isis Foundation, a non-profit whose goals are to preserve and promote the ancient art of Middle Eastern dance, educate the community about cultural aspects of this art form, provide opportunities for study and performance and encourage the growth of talent and self-esteem.

Isis and Del also publish The Belly Dance Chronicles, an international magazine which publishes quarterly and is in its 19th year of publication. The magazine promotes the art of dance, celebrates its history and highlights dancers from around the globe. It is the official publication of the Isis Foundation.

In the Studio

Isis’ Studios and Academy of Performing Arts, one of the largest belly dance studios in Texas, is located in Bedford in the heart of DFW. The studio offers dance classes in Middle Easter Raqs Sharki (commonly known as belly dancing), Polyneasian/Tahitian/Hawaiian Hula, Fusion/Alternative/Tribal and Middle Eastern Rhythm for Tabla. Drum classes and special workshops are also offered throughout the year.

“I am proud of the fact that I have had so many dance and music students who have gone on to become professionals,” Isis said. “Some of them have won competitions around the world.”

For those interested in trying out the various styles of Middle Eastern dancing or drums, classes start again this month. Hula classes will begin in the fall. The studio is currently divided into seven-foot sections to keep everyone socially distanced and safe.

Learn more at their website : https://isisandthestardancers.com/yhy.html.

Experience Gorgeous Classical Concerts By Candlelight At These Magical Venues In Dallas

Photo: SecretDallas

Calm your mind and experience classical music in a new light with these sensational concerts in some of Dallas’s most magical locations. This concert series known simply as “Candlelight” invites everyone to relive the greatest works of classical music, from Vivaldi to Mozart to Bach, in an intimate atmosphere.

And after having enormous success around the world—in cities like Paris, Barcelona, New York, Houston, and Austin—the experience has finally made it to Dallas! Buy tickets for Dallas Candlelight concerts here.

Read more at SecretDallas…

Photo: SecretDallas

CHS Theatre presents ‘Terrifying Texas Tales’ Halloween drive-in movie experience

The Coppell High School Cowboy Theatre Company will showcase the talent and creativity of students in “Terrifying Texas Tales: A Halloween Drive-In Movie Experience” on Oct. 29, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in the parking lot of CHS9.

CHS Theatre students wrote and filmed their own short horror films, based on true Texas horror and paranormal stories.  These films will be streamed as drive-in movies over Halloween weekend.  Shows are at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, Saturday Oct. 31 and Sunday Nov. 1, in the parking lot of CHS9 located at 1301 Wrangler Circle Drive in Coppell.  Recommended audience age is middle school students and up. Tickets can be purchased for $15 per car at www.coppellhstheatre.com. Contactless concession purchases will be available on site. 


“This is a great opportunity to showcase the incredible talent and creativity of our theatre students,” said CHS Theatre Director Karen Ruth.  “Opportunities to perform before audiences in COVID-19 are limited, so we came up with an alternative venue to share scary stories that also offers our community an alternative safe Halloween experience.” 

Ruth added that there will be bonus, super-scary stories shared after a late intermission for those interested in truly terrifying tales.

Visit www.coppellhstheatre.com for details and to purchase tickets. 

Grapevine Rotary Rubber Duck Race scheduled for Sept. 10

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 8.35.58 AMJoin us this September 10th as the Grapevine Rotary Club hosts the 3rd Annual Rubber Duck Race in the Lazy River at The REC of Grapevine.

Thousands of free-spirited yellow rubber ducks will be dropped into The REC Lazy River where they will race to see who is the fastest.

The event will take place from 5-7pm at The REC of Grapevine in fair or Fowl weather!

The winning Duck will earn $1,000, second place wins $500 and third place wins $250.

100% of all proceeds support the Grapevine Rotary Club community programs, such as scholarships for high school seniors, Computers for Kids, Special Olympics, RYLA, Feed Our Kid and American Flags on Main Street.

Every year, Grapevine Rotary Club awards as many scholarships as possible to qualified graduating senior applicants. The impact of these awards for the students in our areas is amazing. In April, we awarded 16 of these scholarships in the amount of $1500 each from the proceeds of our 2019 Duck Race.  

ChuckAll of the ducks are churning up the water to get back in their best racing form after eating too much during quarantine (except for Chuck, who is lounging around the pool. He’s “supervising”).

For more information or to adopt a duck, visit https://grapevinerotaryduckrace.com/ or email grapevinerubberduckrace@gmail.com.

Here’s hoping your duck wins!

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 8.47.45 AM

Download the flyer HERE (.pdf)

Brief guide of what’s been cancelled, postponed and what’s still going on

According to The Rambler Newspapers, here’s what’s cancelled, what’s been rescheduled and what’s still going on:

President of Grand Prairie NAACP reminisces on ‘Growing Up in Dalworth’

By Stacey Doud

DalworthFoodStore

A store in the Dalworth neighborhood

I was recently invited to attend a General Meeting of the Grand Prairie Historical Organization (GPHO). I wasn’t emotionally prepared to hear the stories that the Grand Prairie National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President, Angela Luckey, had to tell. She spoke about “Growing Up in Dalworth,” which is an historically poor African American neighborhood. I also grew up poor in a different place, but a lot of what Luckey said resonated with me personally.

Between 1910 and 1920, Dalworth Park was established with modern conveniences including water, gas, sidewalks and telephones. Businesses such as The Spikes Brothers Broom Factory and the Dalworth Business College moved in, boosting the local economy.

South of the railroad tracks, a community with primarily African American residents, many who worked in the Dalworth Park area, was established and named South Dalworth Park. These communities were incorporated into Grand Prairie in 1942.

After a god BBQ lunch, President of the GPHO, John Wylie, gave a little background on and introduced Luckey.

“[Luckey] is a retired DoD [Department of Defense] professional. She also worked for NASD [National Association of Securities Dealers] and retired for obvious reasons, since NASD was actually closed. She worked overseas in Family Support. As a G.I. for 26 years, stationed around the world, I myself appreciated Family Support at the bases I was stationed at [in the Air Force]. I not only appreciated them, but I used them. So, thank you, Angela,” said Wylie.

Among her 30 years of achievements, Luckey served in Federal Service at NAS JRB (Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth). She is on the Executive Board of the Greater Dallas Head Start Program and has been a candidate for mayor and for the school board. She is a past president of the Dalworth Historical Society. She is currently on the Advisory Board for Constable Ed Wright Pct. 4. On a personal note, she’s lived in Grand Prairie since birth, and has three kids and three grandkids. Her husband, Lenel, served in the Army and fought in the Middle East. He died of a heart attack in 2015.

“I am so proud of my and my family’s history in Grand Prairie. I was born over at Parkland Hospital on March 21, 1966. My family lived across the tracks of the Dalworth community,” Luckey said.

Luckey had the opportunity to attend Head Start before transferring to Dalworth Elementary School in the first grade.

“Head Start is a federally-funded daycare facility, so when the federal government decided to bring a Head Start program to Dallas County, the first Center opened up in Grand Prairie, Texas. So, I got an early head start in education and I really appreciate the federal government at the time for thinking about children in poverty-stricken and low-income areas because we had early education when I was three years old. And now I am an executive board member for Head Start. I really appreciate what Head Start did then and what it is doing today for children and young mothers that have kids, but have to work,” Luckey explained.

After making her way through the younger years of education, Luckey attended the one all-black high school at the time, which was called Dalworth High School.

“A lot of prominent people came out of that [High School] that became judges, doctors and lawyers. Every profession you can think of came out of Dalworth. We have professional athletes that went on to become inductees to the Hall of Fame, like Charlie Taylor and so forth,” Luckey said proudly.

Many Grand Prairie residents aren’t aware that Dalworth produced a championship-winning football team in 1958. The team was called the Dalworth Dragons, and they received a Proclamation that was presented by Mayor C.R. Sargent, who held this office at the time. Luckey had an original copy of this accolade, complete with the City Seal, and read it to the attendees.

“I wanted to read [the proclamation] because it’s part of my foundation – a part of how I got here,” Luckey said.

Luckey then recruited a couple of helpers to hold up a large poster of her family tree. She explained each branch and the hardships they faced, as well as the victories they enjoyed. Her Great Great Grandfather, Frederick Douglas Reed, moved out of Waco to the Grand Prairie area in the early 1920’s because his cousin, Jesse Washington Jr., was accused of raping a white woman in Waco, Texas.

“[My relatives that moved to Grand Prairie] lived on a farm and could pass for white [Caucasian]. There was a horrific accident that occurred here in Grand Prairie that involved his [her great-great grandfather’s] wagon. He was crossing the railroad track and the wagon collided with an interurban train that was coming from Fort Worth to Dallas. Three of his children died in that wreckage.

AngieDemo

Luckey’s Family Tree

“There’s a tiny grave at Grand Prairie High School [near the baseball fields, south of the school]. They have a little fence on Small Street, and the three children were actually buried there. I wanted to share a bit of my family history so you can understand where my roots come from,” Luckey said.

When Luckey was in first grade at Dalworth Elementary, the school district was faced with a lawsuit. One of the African American parents that had a student in Grand Prairie wanted the schools to be integrated. As a result of that lawsuit, younger children were bussed out of their neighborhoods. Luckey ended up attending Dalworth Elementary, Bowie Elementary and Sam Houston Elementary. These constant changes took the sense of stability out of their educational lives, sometimes adding to the chaos of their home lives.

MomAngie

Luckey and her mother

“As a child growing up in Dalworth, I didn’t have a sense of being poor,” Luckey said. “Looking back now, I don’t even know how my parents did it. But my mother worked for LTV and had a college degree. When she worked, she made sure that she went to work during the hours we were at school. So that means when we got up in the morning, she did our hair and made sure we got dressed and went to school. We had breakfast and a dinner when we came home. [My mother] had three kids by the time she was 18 or 19 years old. She’s been married to her husband for 56 years. I tell my mom all the time, ‘They don’t make women like you anymore. Not at all,’” Luckey said, giving a nod to her mother, who was in the audience.

Luckey graduated from South Grand Prairie High School when she was 16 years old because she elected to take classes during every summer. “I thought that once you graduated school, you were grown. That’s not how my father was. His rules were, ‘Until you turn 18, you can’t have a boyfriend.’ I didn’t go to the prom or have a boyfriend in high school because that was not allowed until age 18.

“When I was 18, I was running track at the University of Texas at Arlington (UT-A). The first boy that ever took an interest in me became my boyfriend,” Luckey laughed.

Luckey then attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville and Texas College in Tyler where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She received her master’s degree from Amberton University.

Luckey then got serious.

“You guys are going to be the first to hear this. I mean, my family knows, but I’ve never told this while public speaking. I told myself, ‘I have worked 30 years for the Department of Defense. I’ve worked in Europe. I’ve worked on installations where you have to have a really secret security clearance to where the government had a sign saying if you step here, we can shoot you on the spot. So, I’ve seen a lot of things that the average citizen doesn’t get to see from our federal government. When it came to the point when I could retire after 30 years, I decided to retire. I was 50 years old in 2016.

“So, then I thought, ‘Angela, what are you going to do now?’ I wanted to volunteer for an organization that helps people. Then I began to sit and look at my childhood because some people have things that chase them. Sometimes they’re called ‘skeletons in the closet.’ I realized that I had something that chased me, but it chased me in a positive direction.

“In fourth grade, my teacher, Mr. Grant, had a cousin who was not such a good man. My teacher’s cousin molested me. I was afraid to tell my parents. They didn’t learn about this story until I was fully grown and married with children.  I think that’s why I like to work with the young and disadvantaged. You never know what their struggles are.

“I didn’t let that situation knock me down. It got behind me and it chased me. I wanted to be greater than great. I remember when I was running track at UT-A, I was coming out of the dorm and noticed that there were some yard people that were doing the yard outside the dorm. I looked up, and I saw him [the man who molested her] standing there, staring at me. I didn’t know what to do because I hadn’t [told] anyone. But I didn’t go back to UT-A. I decided I didn’t want to be where he was. I ended up going to Texas College in Tyler. My dad drove me there and basically dropped me off and drove away.

“That was the biggest blessing God could give me, being dropped off at that small black college because it was there that I understood purpose. It was there when I decided that I wanted to be greater than great, and I wanted to be someone that after I go and do whatever I was trying to do, at the end of the day I want to come back and I wanted to be able to help people just like me. That’s basically what I did. I got a master’s degree from Amity University. I have been up in Air Force Two. I have been in the White House several times, with the purpose to visit under every president’s leadership,” Luckey said.

Luckey presented Jan Barrett, the GPHO Program Chair, as well as GPHO President John Wylie, with medals of appreciation from the Grand Prairie NAACP.

Luckey then introduced the owner of Ethalue’s Salon, which has been in business in Dalworth for over 50 years. “This was not just a place to get your hair done,” Luckey said. “This was a place for fellowship, and of course, the latest gossip.”

Ms. Ethalue gave her own account of what it was like being a business owner in Dalworth. Despite some setbacks, her Salon (and now Spa) have been going strong for over half a century.

I personally know it wasn’t luck(ey) that helped Angela achieve all that she has. She is very grateful to God and her family and close friends for guiding her in the tough times. She has touched many people in a positive way, and I know she will keep going.

***

In fact, here’s some info on the GPNAACP’s next event:

NAACP Flyer

Download a .pdf version of the flier perfect for printing HERE

Local author gets creepy and dreamy

By Stacey Doud

Jackie 022620

Today, I had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with local author Jacqueline E. Smith. She is the author of the four (soon to be five) Cemetery Tours series of books, as well as the four Boy Band book series, aimed at young adults.

Smith was born and raised in Dallas and is now living in Richardson. She has been writing, in the form of fan fiction or short stories, since she was very young.

“I have written for fun my entire life. It started when I was in preschool, and it was drawing little Disney books which I still have. I made them on construction paper and then stapled them together,” Smith said.

Shortcut“I remember the first book that made me feel real emotions and I thought, ‘This is cool. This can transport me.’ The name of the book was Shortcut by Donald Crews. It was about these kids that take a shortcut home along the railroad tracks, and they kept hearing a[n] [invisible] train. I thought it was so creepy and cool and I loved it. I was only three or four at the time.

“A few years later, the Harry Potter books came out. By the fifth book, it was the summer before my freshman year in high school. My parents were both working and left me in charge of my sister, who is seven years younger than me, so I just read Harry Potter over and over again. Of course, I couldn’t wait for the sixth book, so I just started writing Harry Potter fan fiction. That’s what really got me back into writing.”

Smith attended University of Texas at Dallas (UT-D) and earned her bachelor’s degree in Art and Performance as well as a master’s degree in Humanities. When she was a junior [undergrad], she got sick “again. I feel like everything in my life goes back to when I was engulfed in germs,” she said.

“I spent the entire Spring Break on the couch that year, and I was just so bummed. I wanted to go out and have adventures and fun. But I was stuck on the couch, so I started reading a bunch of romance novels that I bought at Half-Price Books. I started thinking to myself, ‘I could do this!’ It wasn’t even one of those epiphanies. It was just the thought that I could do this,” Smith said. She didn’t let anything stand in her way, as she went on to get her master’s degree in Humanities from UT-D.

Smith has had a life-long dream to work with animals and to take photos, but “there’s not a lot of money in traveling around and taking pictures.’ So, I had to find a way to make money. I thought, ‘well maybe I can write books and make money!’ Granted, that was not a solid plan because you really don’t make a lot of money in this industry. But at the time, it seemed like a solution,” Smith explained.

Smith says she prefers “indie [independent] writing” to working with publishers because the author keeps all of their rights, content, characters, etc. “Plus, I am not a good group writer. I am more the ‘leave me alone to write,’ kind of author. Of course, I have great editors, like my sister, to help me. She will tell me like it is and not try to sugarcoat it. That’s what I need,” she said.

As for her interest in the paranormal, Smith explained, “I’ve always loved ghosts. My mother raised us really celebrating Halloween, so I’ve always loved spooky things.”

She has also had a few paranormal experiences.

Smith Headstone

Photo Courtesy of Jacqueline E. Smith

“My favorite experience was when I was taking a historical tour in The Colony, and we were in a cemetery. Most of the graves were situated around the front. And so, I was just walking around and taking some pictures, like I love to do. There was this tree off to the side, and it kept ‘calling me over.’ I kept thinking, ‘what’s with this tree? I don’t really need to go over there.’ But I finally did [go to the tree] and it turned out that there was a broken tombstone beneath the tree with my initials [JES] carved into it. My stomach dropped. It was the creepiest thing to have happened to me so far,” Smith explained.

Smith ended up penning the first Cemetery Tours book in 2010 to deal with the loss of a beloved pet. “It affected me so bad. I started getting headaches and got a rash,” she recalled. “I was so sad in the days following. [The cat] was my baby! I started watching 16 and Pregnant, believe it or not. When that was over, I started flipping through the channels and landed on Ghost Adventures. That show actually got me through the grief and gave me the idea for Cemetery Tours, which also helped with the sadness. “I was in such a state of distress. In fact, I think that’s what triggered my mental illness”.

Smith currently experiences Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She can’t have her food touch on a plate, has to eat in a certain order and can’t eat unless she is expecting to eat. She also has trouble with even minor schedule changes. She is an advocate for the awareness and treatment of mental illnesses and shares her story regularly.

Smith says that there is a Book Five of Cemetery Tours waiting to be written. “I have not written it yet because it’s going to hurt. Something that Michael has dealt with in this whole series is that he can see ghosts that are still in this realm, but he has no idea what happens after. There may be more exploration of what may be beyond this life.”

Trashy RomanceRight now, Smith is working on a book titled Trashy Suspense Novel. She already has published Trashy Romance Novel, since her friends told her that no one can make money unless they write a trashy romance novel. Not one to mince words, Smith has named these two books for exactly what they are. “I like the names because if someone doesn’t like it, I can tell them that they knew what they were getting into…a trashy book!” The romance novel has won several awards, one which was for humor. “I like that I can be funny, and I pride myself on it, so that award meant a lot to me.”

Also, on the horizon, looms a potential independent film of the Boy Band series, to be produced by a Dallas director Jalitza Delgado. This topic will be the focus of a podcast called “Coffee Talk with Chelle” this Sunday (3/1) at 8pm CST. “We are in the fundraising stage right now,” Smith said.

Interested parties may donate to her project via GoFundMe HERE and can listen to the podcast to learn more about the project HERE.

To take a peek at Amazon’s page for Jackie, click HERE.

I know that I am personally looking forward to reading all of the Cemetery Tours books. I am on Chapter 3 of the first book, and it is tough to put down! So, thank you, Jackie, for your imagination, talent and honesty!

Grapevine steps back to its prehistoric roots

By Stacey Doud

DinoSignGrapevine Parks & Rec is once again transforming the Botanical Gardens into Jurassic Park (without all the violence) from March 21 until April 5. This exhibit honors Lake Grapevine’s place in the Woodbine Formation, which consists predominately of sandstones and shales, and occurs in exposed outcrops in north central Texas and southern Oklahoma,

Called Jurassic Gardens, visitors can enjoy and learn about the many animatronic, life-size dinosaurs that once roamed the land they’re standing on. There are many other activities, such as a “bone dig,” some simple carnival games and many opportunities for learning.

The cost is $10 per person, with children 2 and under receiving FREE admission. Tickets go on sale Sunday, March 1, 2020 at https://gograpevine.com/event/jurassicgardens/.

But wait! There’s more!

After the sun goes down, visitors can experience the exhibits in a whole new “light” during Dinos After Dark. On Fridays, special guests will give special presentations about paleontology. On Saturday nights, popular dinosaur movies will be shown. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

Both activities will be held from 7pm – 10pm and the cost is $10 per person (children under 2 are free).

The Movie Line-Up:

Jurassic Gardens Basic Info:

  • When: March 21 – April 5, 2020
  • Where: Grapevine Botanical Gardens, 411 Ball Street
  • Times: Monday – Friday: 12pm – 6pm; Saturday and Sunday: 9am – 6pm

For more information, directions and tickets (after March 1), visit Grapevine Parks & Rec.