Redwood Wanderings

When I planning my trip to California, my lifelong best friend Hannah asked me what I wanted to do once I got out there.  I had several things in mind, but something I really wanted was to spend more time with the redwoods.  I’d seen them once for about five minutes.  It was awesome, but it really wasn’t enough time at all.  

I love hiking and I love forests and the redwoods are nothing short of magical.  Just being there, you can sense how old they are, how long they’ve stood.  It’s almost eerie thinking about how much they’ve witnessed and how short our lifespans are in comparison.  

The redwoods are perfect for sparking the imagination.  I envisioned witches gathering in the groves and fairies flitting about through the sunbeams.  

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We ended our time with the redwoods by driving to one of the neighboring beaches for a quick stroll.  It was lovely, but the entire time, I felt my thoughts drifting back to the forest.  Odd, since I love water and the beach probably more than just about anything. 

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The Problem with Pictures

So, I have a problem. It’s called I Want to Share my California Pictures with all of you but I Take WAY Too Many Pictures for One Blog Post.  To solve this problem, I’ve decided to split the pictures up into several different posts.  

For this first post, I thought I’d share my favorite part of San Francisco… the SEA LIONS!

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Seriously, I love sea lions. They are absolutely one of my very favorite animals ever.  I was thrilled this trip to be able to visit the Marine Mammal Center and see how they work to help stranded and sick marine mammals all over the coast: http://www.marinemammalcenter.org

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I also got to visit the Aquarium on the Bay (I think that’s what it was called).  I’m a big fan of all marine life, so I will never pass up an opportunity to peruse an aquarium. 

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As you can see, I’m particularly fond of jellyfish and sea stars, especially this sea star who looks like he just finished an epic Broadway musical number.

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Video Killed the Radio Star

Okay, well, the title doesn’t exactly go with this post, but there will be videos, so you know, just thought I’d kind of go with it. 

I am home from California and I had a super amazing awesome time!  I can’t wait to share photos and stories with you.  Until then, however, please enjoy the following links.

The first is to the Cemetery Tours book trailer!  Besides a brief cameo (please do NOT judge me for my poor acting skills… I am a writer, not a thespian), I had absolutely nothing to do with this trailer.  These awesome theater and film students wrote, produced, acted, and directed it all.  They are all so, so, so talented and amazing.  

The second video I’m sharing should probably never see the light of day, but I’m going to share it anyway.  It’s my ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!  I was nominated by my little cousin and by fellow author, Toni (http://tjwiltshire.com).  I’m sure most of you know the drill by now, but if you’re nominated, you either dump a bucket of ice water on your head or donate or both.  I will be doing both.  

Hope you all have a good week!  I’ll talk to y’all soon! 

California Bound

Hi, friends! 

Well, after writing that lovely post about getting back to work and being a responsible adult… I’m off to California!  My best friend from high school lives out in San Francisco, so I’m going to spend a few days out there, seeing sea lions, drinking wine, and having an all around good time. I’ve been once before and had an awesome time. 

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I’m especially excited this year to visit some new places, especially the Marine Mammal Center. Although one of my goals is to become a New York Times best-selling author by the time I’m 30, marine life will always be my first love.  

Well, I’m going to continue writing as much as I can today, though I will be setting my books aside in order to pack and prepare for the journey to San Francisco tomorrow.  I hope you all have a great rest of the week!  

Back to Work

Well folks, the summer is winding down.  School is starting back up again.  Real life is making more demands than ever.  I’ll admit, though I do feel I got a lot done this summer (books published, books sold, books read, a few events, etc…) I probably did a lot more playing and a lot less working than I should have.  Oh well.  That’s what summers are for. 

Regardless, it’s time to dive back into the professional world.  I have two books that I’m working on simultaneously (on chapters 8 and 4, respectively) and along with focusing every bit of attention I have on making these next two books the absolute best I can, I also need to be sure to keep the momentum going on the first two Cemetery Tours books.  I’m thrilled with how well both have been selling this month and I’m hoping it keeps up, especially with the haunting Halloween season right around the corner!  I have three events scheduled for the next two months, and I’m hoping to book at least one or two more.  That’s a goal I have for next week.  

This week, I’ll admit, I’m going to be playing a bit more.  I’m going out to visit my best friend from high school in San Francisco.  I’m really excited, but at the same time, it kind of doesn’t feel real yet.  It feels like I’m going in like, three weeks.  

In book news, I recently finished Inescapable, the first book in the Premonition Series by Amy A. Bartol.  It’s called Inescapable and I actually stumbled across it at a local bookstore.  I picked it up because I saw that Ms. Bartol used the same printing company that I use and I thought, Hey, I like supporting my fellow indies.  

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I loved it!  I really want to read the rest of the series, but I’m waiting until I finish a few of the other books waiting to be read that I have lying in a pile on my bedroom floor.  

I also recently read A Time to Reap by Jonas Lee, also the first in a series.  I’ve not read many sci-fi/futuristic time-travelling books, but this one was very enjoyable and a fast-paced read.  

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Finally, I also got to read the second book in my friend Melissa Zaroski’s series, Davenport Manor: The Living Weapon.  All I can say is if you like vampires, you’ll enjoy these books.  I kind of wish that I was friends with all the characters.  And the book ends with a cliffhanger, so you know you have to keep reading the next one.  

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I love that the last three books I read and truly enjoyed were written by indie authors.  Just saying. 

Finally, Cemetery Tours received an AMAZING review from Carol Allen of StarAngel’s Reviews.  Her words actually gave me chills.  You can read the review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1010042491?book_show_action=false&page=1

Or here:

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You can find Carol on GoodReads here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6294320-carol-starangel-s-reviews-allen

Well, with all that being said, I’m going to go get to work!  Have a good week! 

You’re Okay

This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time. I’m not sure what’s been stopping me, really. Maybe because it’s another one of those personal things that really doesn’t have much of a place on this kind of blog. But in wake of the apparent suicide of Robin Williams, it’s something that’s weighing heavily not only on my mind, but on everyone’s.

I’m not saying anything new when I write that depression is an unpredictable disease, or that its victims often take friends and family by surprise. The illness itself is bad enough. What’s worse is being afraid to confide in anyone. That shouldn’t be the case, but it often is.

I can’t speak for all victims of mental illness, but when my symptoms began, I tried to convince myself that it was nothing.

Mind over matter.

I just have to will it away.

You’re just being silly.

Telling myself that was hard enough. It was even harder to hear it from the people I loved. I was told that I was just hormonal. I was told I was just being paranoid. I was told that I didn’t need to see a doctor. I was told that I didn’t need medication. Hearing all of that made me feel crazier than I already did.

I should probably stop right there and tell you that I am not clinically depressed. My mom’s side of the family has a history of mental illness, mostly anxiety. My mom and my sister have both suffered panic attacks in the past and have been treated for anxiety. As for me, I’m more on the obsessive compulsive end of the spectrum. As I got older, it got progressively worse until finally, I would completely shut down at the thought of last minute changes. On top of that, I began suffering from PMDD. Long story short, those few days of depression a month were absolutely miserable. I felt worthless, pathetic, and worst of all, unworthy of everything and everyone I loved.

If those few days were unbearable, I can’t imagine the toll chronic depression takes on its victims. Seeing a doctor and getting on anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication was one of the best things I’ve ever done, not only for myself, but for my friends and family too. I became the person I was before the anxiety and the compulsions started. I’m myself again. I love my life and everything about it.

No matter what anyone says, there is no shame in seeking help. Being on medicine doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means your brain chemistry just needs a little help to balance itself out. It’s time we stopped treating mental illness as something that can be overcome by sheer willpower or by pretending it doesn’t exist. It does exist, and it claims victims, more now, perhaps, than ever before.

If you are suffering from any sort of mental illness, know that you are not alone. You’re okay, I promise. I know because I’m right there with you. If you know someone suffering, listen to them, support them, and encourage them to get help. It might just save a life.

Oh Captain, My Captain

Five minutes ago, I was all set and ready to write a blog post about Shark Week, Ravenclaw socks, and new reviews. Now, I’m sitting here in shock, reeling from the news headline that just flashed across my television screen.

Robin Williams found dead.

It’s weird. Actors and musicians I’ve loved before have died, but none has hit so close to home as the death of the beloved Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, and Genie.

My generation grew up with Robin Williams. He was simultaneously the funniest guy you could think of and the guy who could make you cry with a single scene. It didn’t matter who you were. Everyone had seen at least one Robbin Williams movie. And everyone loved him.

Right now, I have my favorite movie scenes playing in my head. I see a zany professor dancing around with his bouncing green Flubber. I hear a familiar voice serenading the fabulous Prince Ali Ababwa. I see an ambitious medical student, holding a dying man’s hand, and singing about blue skies. I see a ten-year-old boy in a 40-year-old’s body gazing in awe at a new butterfly. I see young Ethan Hawke standing on a desk, declaring, “Oh Captain, my Captain.” And I’m trying not to cry.

The world wasn’t ready to say goodbye to you, Robin. And neither was I.

My GISHWHES Experience

When my friend came to me asking if I would write a story for her friend for GISHWHES I had no idea what she was talking about.

For those who don’t know, GISHWHES is a scavenger hunt hosted by Supernatural star, Misha Collins. Technically, it is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen (GISWHES). This year, one of the items was to get a previously published sci-fi writer to write a story about Misha, the Elopus (half-octopus-half-elephant), and the Queen of England. The story could be no more than 140 words, which, ask any author, is a HUGE challenge. We are, by nature, wordy people. We love words. That’s why we’re writers. Being limited to 140 words goes against our natural instincts.

Still, I’m always up for a challenge. So when my friend came to me asking for this story for her friend, I thought, “Yeah, okay, sure. I don’t know what an Elopus is, but whatever…” Thankfully, she was there to walk me through this new world of GISHWHES.

I had so much fun with that first story that I decided to check the GISHWHES tag on Twitter to see what some of the other tasks were. As I browsed, I saw writers volunteering their talent to GISHWHES teams still seeking a story. I realized, “Hey… I could do that!”

Now, I’ve always sort of thought of myself as more of a paranormal writer than a sci-fi writer, but then I remembered that Ghost Hunters is totally a SyFy Channel show, ergo ghosts = Sci-Fi. There you go.

As of right now, I’ve written stories for 55 different GISHWHES teams. I’ve met some really awesome people and had a lot of fun with it, myself. I know there are authors out there who didn’t think they should be giving away free stories, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a great way to connect with people and it provides a challenge, not to mention it’s for a good cause. Not to mention, I’m a huge fangirl at heart. These are my people! I can’t let my people down!

To all the GISHWHES teams out there, I wish you all the best of luck! I’m so glad I got to participate this year. It was pretty neat to feel so in demand! If anyone else needs a story, I will try my best to fit you in, but I will be pretty busy for most of today. Regardless, like my page (https://www.facebook.com/CemeteryToursSeries) and send me a message there. I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to finishing what I’ve set out to do.