Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Photo tour stop 4: Fire!

Hello again! I hope you all are enjoying your little trip through my fair city! Today, we're taking a turn for the darker side of the series. Today I will show you the places that exist in the fourth book: Fire. (Just click on the pictures to see enlarged versions.)

In the beginning, Shay is atop a hill, overlooking Ventura. She's been meditating and desperately trying to glean any energy she can from the hillside. Atop this hill is a massive cross that marks the area where Spanish Monks used to reside. Here is that hill and the view.

You can see, people were getting married there that day. What a lovely place for a wedding.

And this is the view from the top of the hill:
Kind of appropriate that there was so much June Gloom that day. Since the book takes place in the winter, you get a better sense of what it should look like in the book

 A few more pretty views of the hill:

I wanted to give you some awesome shots of the coastline where Shayna tests out her new-found flying abilities to help in the car crash, but alas, there was so much construction going on, none of the shots were usable.

But, moving right along! We get to see the beautiful Majestic Ventura Theater:

The view from the balcony (I'm sure we all liked the balcony scene ;) ):
Photo credit:

And finally, the entrance to The Tea Gardens. This is the place where I set the New Years Even scene and subsequently the fiery end of the book. 

Five years ago there actually was a horrible, horrible fire in this area. College kids had broken into the Tea Gardens (so named because this once belonged to Charlie Chaplan and he would take his tea in this part of the property), had a party and a fire and did not properly extinguish their fire before they left. A few days later, wind stirred the embers and set a catastrophic fire, burning 100 homes and injuring two people. It was heartbreaking. Because of my father's business (construction), we were very familiar with this area and knew many of the people effected. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see it doing so well now.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Photo tour week three: Water

Welcome to the third installment of our photo tour! This week: Water - Book Two in the Elemental Series. This will probably be one of the shorter posts since most of the book's major locations were underwater, but hopefully I've caught enough shots to make it entertaining for you.

In the very beginning we are brought on a dawn patrol surf session with Shayna at her favorite break: Surfers' Point

Dawn at the beach is a wondrous, beautiful thing.

 (click the image to see a larger version)

Each of these were taken at Surfers' Point and gives you an idea of the changing moods of our beach.
Later, Shayna chases down a woman, frantically looking for her lost child. Little does Shay realize, the area known as "River Mouth" would be where she spend the majority of her time on her summer break.

River Mouth, where fresh water meets the sea.

And later we would see the beautiful beaches of Emma Wood. Emma has a special place in my heart because that was where my dad taught me how to boogie board and was one of the first places I went surfing with my husband. And if you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, Emma is one of the nicest spots to watch the sunset.

So many beautiful beaches in our county, I just wish we were lucky enough to get seashells :). Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this installment!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Photo Tour for Air: Book Two in the Elemental Series

Welcome to week two of our photo tour! Today I'm featuring the real life locations that inspired many of the places in Air: Book Two.

First up the shopping center with the movie theater and cafe where we first meet Jeremy and his invisible friends.

Then of course we have our favorite bookstore...
Which turns into a rather scary place when an unstable Jeremy looses his cool...

And then flees by jumping off the exterior balcony.

Unfortunately a lot of the other locales were made up. Much of what happened in this book were in private homes and then of course, in the Shide. None of which I could photograph. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Excerpt: Secret for a Song

Hello my lovelies! Today I'm very happy to share with you an excerpt from my friend, S.K. Fall's latest release! This is a slight departure from my normal work featured on my blog, focusing mostly on Paranormal and Fantasy, but I am so excited about this New Adult Contemporary story, I wanted to share it with you. So, without further ado, here is the excerpt!

 Drew waited with me as I stood on the sidewalk outside, letting the snow dust my head and shoulders.
“You look good in snow,” he said.
I laughed, my cheeks heating up as I tipped my head back to look at him. “Are you drunk?”
He stepped in closer, blocking out the streetlight that glowed orange in my eyes. “Maybe just a little tipsy.” He smiled. “I really meant what I sang in there.”
“Which part?” My words were just a breath, curling into the air.
He brought his head down to mine, so our noses were almost touching. “I’ll tell you a secret, I’ll sell you a secret for a song,” he sang softly; the same song from the bar. “Someday I’ll tell you, and take you back home where you belong.”
I wasn’t one of those girls who cried at every emotional thing they saw or heard; I’d never been that way. That might’ve explained why, when the tears cascaded down onto my cheeks, I felt with my fingers to see what the hell was going on with my eyes.
“Hey,” Drew said, catching one of the tears with a fingertip. “Are you okay?”
I opened my mouth to say I was, but all that came out was a sort of sob-whine, and more tears. Drew responded by putting his free hand around my waist and covering my mouth with his.
I’d like to say that in that moment, I kept my head. That I remembered that I was lying to him, that my entire existence in his life was only because of a huge untruth, and that I intended to extricate myself from him and the rest of the group. I’d like to say that I stopped the kiss.
But in that instance, the only thing I felt, the only thing that mattered, was how hard I was falling for Andrew Dean.
I was falling for this scared, lonely, broken, brave man who sang songs about secrets, who lulled me into a whole new universe using nothing but his voice. I wanted him, all of him, and I pretended that I belonged. It was the biggest lie I’d told up to that point, and for someone whose entire life was carved out of lies of different colors and shades and shapes, that was saying a lot.

Buy links:
Visit S.K. Falls:
A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, I enjoy alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where I live and imbibe coffee. My husband and two small children seem not to mind when I hastily scribble novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.
Since no writer’s biography is complete without mention of her menagerie of animals, you should know I have one dog that doubles as a footstool, a second that functions as a vacuum cleaner, and a cat that ensures I never forget that my hands are, first and foremost, for pouring cat food.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Photo Tour of Earth: Book One in the Elemental Seires

Hello my lovelies! Today is the first installment of the photo tour of the real life places of the locations featured in the Elemental Series! First up: Earth. Mind you that I'm just showing your real places. I did make up some places, pulled them right out of my imagination. Like the high school - that place was an amalgamation of all the high schools in the district, so no pics of that. 

Unfortunately when June 1st rolled around, Ventura decided to be very literal about June Gloom. It had been sunny and warm and pretty for weeks until June 1st, so some of these pics look a little dreary and I'm sorry for that. 

So without further ado!

The Oak Ash and Thorn, featured in all five books was actually based on Journey Home, our local metaphysical shop. I have been going to this shop since I was six years old. Sadly, the exterior isn't the prettiest.

 In the beginning of the book the trio goes to a greasy spoon restaurant before they perform their first casting of the series. I give you Main St Cafe. Fun fact: this is the same restaurant from Erin Brockavich!

And you'll recall when they were finished with their meal they took some food to go for their friend and lookout, Byron. This is Byron's bench and beyond that, the first place we see the trio cast their first spells of the series.

And though the reason the three are seeking out the cause of the disruption of their quiet town and looking for someone performing blood magic, the drive down the coast to the first location is always beautiful. 
(Many car companies film their commercials along this stretch of road.)

Later, the trio goes on the hunt for the guy causing all the ruckus in town, performing blood magic and trying to lure girls into the woods. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Be sure to check out The Spellbound Scribes blog!

As many of you know, I contribute to another blog, The Spellbound Scribes. We took a quick hiatus to revamp our blog and retool our thinking. But it is back up and we hit the ground running!

Be sure to follow me and my fellow Scribes to read some awesome creative and informative posts. You'll find flash fiction, story in the round, posts on writing craft, plans for world domination, things that go bump in the night, pretty much anything you'd like to see from a group of Paranormal writers.

Query Kombat Entry

Entry Nickname: Witch for Hire
Title: Wytchcraft
Word count: 101,000
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

Updated Query:

Matilda Kavanagh is a witch for hire, just trying to pay rent and keep from sharing the same can of tuna with her cat. When a troll comes knocking at her door, looking to buy a spell to catch a fairy, Mattie can’t turn away his money. Little does she know, the fairy he intends to catch is the fairy princess, Rae of Dunhallow.

Just days before Rae’s brother, Roane, went missing. Thanks to Mattie helping the troll catch one fairy, they assume she must have helped someone catch the second. Now all eyes on are Mattie and her charms. The Lord and Lady of Dunhallow are holding Mattie responsible to bring Roane home, safe and sound. To force her to cooperate, the Dunhallows are holding the vampire she once loved hostage. And if that won’t work, they’ll just kill her.

Can Mattie find Roane and bring him home before the Lord and Lady lose their patience and kill her and her former, and possibly future, lover?

Updated first 250(ish) words:
I was almost out of vervain; I was almost out of a lot of my stores. Have to go visit Ronnie soon, I thought, but my tab was getting a little out of hand and I didn’t like the idea of adding to it. Closing the cupboard, I decided against starting the potion I was going to make; if I didn’t do it right it would blow up in my face. Literally and I had just waxed my eyebrows, I wanted to keep them.
“Gonna have to find work soon, Artie,” I reached to scratch my black, smush-faced cat behind the ears as he purred on the kitchen table. “We’ll be sharing the same can of tuna if I’m not careful.” Artemis rolled on his back, four black paws stretching in opposite directions before he became boneless.

Opening the fridge, I poked through leftover take out containers. Just as I grabbed a cold eggroll, someone banged at my front door. A glance at the clock told me it was well after midnight. It wasn’t odd for someone to come by at this time of night, but I wasn’t expecting anyone. I bit off a bite of eggroll and nudged the fridge closed with my hip, grabbing my baseball bat on my way to the door. Sure, I could hex whoever it was or use my knockout powder, but if it was a friend they wouldn’t thank me for it in the morning. At least the bat was threatening enough to give someone pause and me a second to react.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Writing – My Secrets

Many of you know I churn out a pretty high word count average per day. When I sit down to write I average 3,000-5,000 words. I don’t like to say pages because a page of narrative compared to a page of dialogue is so different that some days you’ll get 4-8 pages and others 10-15 depending on how much dialogue you wrote.

So, how do I do it? Since I started writing the Elemental Series I stopped treating writing like a hobby. That is the biggest question you need to ask yourself: Is writing a hobby for you? If it isn’t, if you plan to someday quit that day job and become a fulltime writer then you need to treat your writing like a job. I wrote the first three rough drafts of the first three books in the Elemental Series while working a full time job. I did not, by any stretch of the imagination, get 3-5k words a day during that time, but I forced myself to get 1k words, five days a week.

Because I was in the habit of writing 1k words a day (which averages out to 4 pages if you’re curious), when I lost my job due to the economy crash, it wasn’t difficult for me to demand more words of myself every day.

Now I’m a fulltime writer so of course I need to get a much larger word count. Yes, the house needs to be cleaned, the laundry needs doing, the dogs need walking, food needs to be cooked, time spent with my husband. All of that needs to be done, but you do all of that with a day job, right? Why make excuses to keep from writing? All of those things will still get done after you’ve allowed yourself time to write. Treat it like a job. If you called in sick every day to any other job, you’d eventually get fired, right? Right.

But how do I get that much written in a day, that’s the other question. I do not sit at my desk and write nonstop until I reach my word goal for the day. If I did, I would never get the numbers I get. Instead I carve out my words in chunks. There are a few different ways to do this, you just gotta figure out what works best for you.

I am very active on Twitter and like to have it open while I’m writing. I use it to report how much I’ve written and tell people I’m writing so if there’s someone else writing at that moment, they know they aren’t alone. It’s good to have a writing community.

When I first started this practice a popular challenge was #1k1hr – which means you’re committing to writing for one straight hour to get 1,000 words. This is cool, but it doesn’t always work for me. One straight hour, never looking away, never giving yourself a tiny break, gets to me. Like a cat with a laser pointer, I can’t focus.

I sprint. I write for 15 mins straight, or 20 minutes or 30. I never go longer than 30 without a break. In 15 mins I can write about 400-500 words. In 20 I can write 500-800 words and in 30 I almost always break the 1k mark and average 900-1300 words. But if you ask me to write for one hour straight I wont get much more than 1k because I slow down and want to do other things. It’s too much! Could you run as fast as you could for a whole hour? Do you think by the 40 min mark you’d be running just as fast as you were at the 15 min mark? Probably not. I look at writing the same way.

I sprint, usually with some writer friends, for a short block of time, then look away from the document. I check my email, twitter, stats, whatever. I take a 5-15 min break and then go again. But even if you only take a 5 min break, it will make a huge difference.

So that’s my big secret!

Figure out what works for you and do it. It doesn’t matter what you have to do to write, so long as you actually write.