April 30, 2013

interview with the author of 'transplanting holly oakwood'

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to welcome Di Jones, author of Transplanting Holly Oakwood (check out my review here and an excerpt here), to Change the Word as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour. Thanks for joining us, today.

Change the Word: What was the inspiration for this book?
Di Jones: I’d always wanted to write a book, but never knew what to write about. Ten years ago when I was living in Los Angeles I was quite lonely and I’d send these really long emails home. About five years ago I found them, and it occurred to me I could use some parts of them as incidents in a novel  So I started writing Transplanting Holly Oakwood, intending it to be this intellectual look at the differences between two English speaking cities, one London and the other LA. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but instead took in a life of its own. My protagonist Holly might be a bit ditsy, but she’s also strong-minded, and she wanted to tell her story her way.

CTW: What characteristics do you share with your MC?
DJ: Holly and I both:
·  Suffer frequent romantic and hairdressing disasters
·  Speak before we think
·  Love Auckland, London, and LA
·  Adore Nine West shoes, chocolate, wine, and men in uniform
·  Can’t abide dishonesty, bitchiness, or cruelty
·  Like to think we’re sophisticated, but have a na├»ve streak.

Apart from that, we’re nothing alike.

CTW: What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book?

DJ: The biggest challenge was getting it finished. It took a couple of years, because I kept stopping and starting all the time. I think I had more elapsed time than actual writing time. I’ve always been a bad procrastinator, and apparently I’m not alone. There are tons of articles on the Internet about writers and procrastination. I read most of them while I was procrastinating with my writing.

CTW: How did you overcome this challenge?

DJ: I’m not sure I have completely overcome it. My second book Meeting Miss Mollie was a bit easier because I knew I could complete one, and I definitely did that one faster. But I still sit down to write and instead surf the web, Tweet, check Facebook, pin a couple of pics onto Pinterest. My third book is coming along faster than the second, but discipline is not my strong suit. I tell myself that if I was lucky enough to be able to give away the day job and become a full-time writer, things would be different. We’ll see.

CTW: What was the biggest lesson you have taken away from the writing and publishing process?

DJ: The biggest lesson is to stay true to yourself, and what you want to write. Of course you have to be committed to learning the craft, but developing your own style and voice are critical. You also have to realize that no matter how happy you are with your work, and how much others like it, there will be some who hate it too. You have to move beyond that, and continue to write what you love.

CTW: What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?
DJ: Writing is a craft, and unless you are exceptionally gifted, you’ll need to consider your first few years as an apprenticeship. It takes a lot of time , and unless you can afford to give up your day job and write full-time, you’ll need to make a few sacrifices with your leisure time. So my advice is to stay focused and develop perseverance.

CTW: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you take with you?
DJ: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis; Roget’s Thesaurus; and a very large blank notebook with hundreds of pages. I’d need a couple of packs of pencils and a pencil sharpener too!

CTW: What is one thing you have to have with you to write?

DJ: A clear, still, focused mind.

CTW: What's up next for you and your writing career?
DJ: I’m working on my third book, Taking the Lead: Adventures of a Hollywood Dog Walker. This book is the prequel to Transplanting Holly Oakwood. Here’s a short blurb:
Tessa Taylor leaves her home in Washington DC to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. But Tinseltown is tough, and the road to stardom isn’t as straightforward as she hopes it will be. Tessa has to compromise to make ends meet as she pursues the dream, and work is hard to come by in Hollywood. She tries one job after another, and they all end in disaster. Until one day she finds the perfect job – and the perfect group of new friends.
I’ll be spending the rest of this year finishing this book and also thinking about the next, which I’ll probably start writing in November. I have a couple of book ideas in mind, so will have a decision to make as to which to go with.

CTW: Anything else you would like to share?
CJ: I’d like to take my writing to the next level, and I’ve recently had an approach from a literary agent. I’m in discussions with them, and can’t say too much because it’s early days, but I’m hoping they’ll be representing me and helping me develop myself as a writer. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

CTW: Fingers crossed. Thanks for stopping by and best of luck on your next writing adventures.

About the Author
I was born in Liverpool, England to parents who had a strong sense of adventure and moved many times. I’ve lived in Canada, the United States, England and New Zealand. I’ve worked in a variety of jobs ranging from envelope stuffer to bakery assistant, librarian to trade development executive, but none of my jobs were as much fun as the one that allowed me to write and get paid for it. That was a few years ago, and each year it’s become more and more apparent what I want to do is write full time, a dream that first occurred to me at seventeen.

I write chick lit – light hearted and humorous stories for and about women who value their families, their friendships, their careers, their independence, who have a sense of adventure, and who live and love with passion.

Like my characters, I love my family and friends, beautiful shoes, anything sparkly, the ‘occasional’ drink, parties, and a good belly laugh. I’m addicted to shopping, chocolate, bubble bath and anything else that smells nice, and the sort of tv programmes you’d never publicly admit to watching.

I live in a lovingly renovated home overlooking Auckland’s beautiful Waitemata Harbour, with my trusted friends Bronson Boxer and Dolce Dane. They keep me fit and exercised, scare the burglars away, sit loyally by my side throughout my late night writing sessions, and hang on my every word when I read final drafts aloud. They truly are my biggest fans, and I theirs!

I love my life, but not so much that there’s not room to live a load of other lives, through the hearts and minds of my characters, all of whom I adore, and some of whom I’m fortunate enough to call friend.

Connect with Di
http://www.dijoneswrites.com
http://www.amazon.com/Transplanting-Holly-Oakwood-ebook/dp/B008AFPGII/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1
http://www.amazon.com/Meeting-Miss-Mollie-ebook/dp/B00BA8T03O/ref=pd_sim_b_1

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April 29, 2013

book review: transplanting holly oakwood

After serious heartbreak, a woman makes a new life in a new country in Di Jones' Transplanting Holly Oakwood.

Holly Oakwood's life is in shambles. Not only does she find her best friend shagging her boyfriend, but she's having problems at her job as well. When that culminates in her leaving the job, Holly finds herself at a crossroads. After landing a dream job in Los Angeles, Holly is ready to take on a new challenge on a new adventure in a new place.

But there's trouble in paradise. For this Brit, life in L.A. proves to be a lot skinnier -- and more plastic -- than she bargained for. Add in that the dream job isn't quite what she had in mind and the difficulty making friends in a new place, and Holly realizes she may have made a huge mistake.

Holly's struggles are very real and understandable. Whether you've been jilted by a lover or friend, had to work for the boss from Hell or have found yourself totally and completely alone, you can relate to what she is going through. She has flaws. She has good characteristics. She makes mistakes. She tries to overcome them. She sometimes makes a disaster of it. She's a solid chick lit character.

While I enjoyed reading about her trials and attempts to overcome them, I have to admit that sometimes it was painful. At times, things seemed so bad or embarrassing I found myself cringing for poor Holly.

The story also features plenty of other intriguing characters, who each have an opportunity to shed light on their end of the story.

I'm headed to L.A. myself next weekend, so it was fun to read about another woman's adventures in the land of stars -- even if her experiences weren't always as sunny as one might hope.

Thanks to Di for giving me an opportunity to read this story. I look forward to having you on the blog, tomorrow, for an interview.

Rating: 4 of 5

About the Author
I was born in Liverpool, England to parents who had a strong sense of adventure and moved many times.  I’ve lived in Canada, the United States, England and New Zealand.  I’ve worked in a variety of jobs ranging from envelope stuffer to bakery assistant, librarian to trade development executive, but none of my jobs were as much fun as the one that allowed me to write and get paid for it.  That was a few years ago, and each year it’s become more and more apparent what I want to do is write full time, a dream that first occurred to me at seventeen.

I write chick lit – light hearted and humorous stories for and about women who value their families, their friendships, their careers, their independence, who have a sense of adventure, and who live and love with passion.

Like my characters, I love my family and friends, beautiful shoes, anything sparkly, the ‘occasional’ drink, parties, and a good belly laugh.  I’m addicted to shopping, chocolate, bubble bath and anything else that smells nice, and the sort of tv programmes you’d never publicly admit to watching.

I live in a lovingly renovated home overlooking Auckland’s beautiful Waitemata Harbour, with my trusted friends Bronson Boxer and Dolce Dane.  They keep me fit and exercised, scare the burglars away, sit loyally by my side throughout my late night writing sessions, and hang on my every word when I read final drafts aloud.  They truly are my biggest fans, and I theirs!

I love my life, but not so much that there’s not room to live a load of other lives, through the hearts and minds of my characters, all of whom I adore, and some of whom I’m fortunate enough to call friend.

Connect with Di
http://www.dijoneswrites.com
http://www.amazon.com/Transplanting-Holly-Oakwood-ebook/dp/B008AFPGII/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1
http://www.amazon.com/Meeting-Miss-Mollie-ebook/dp/B00BA8T03O/ref=pd_sim_b_1

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excerpt of 'transplanting holly oakwood'

Blogger's Note: Check out this excerpt of Di Jones' Transplanting Holly Oakwood. I'll post my review of this fab read later this morning. Enjoy!

Holly sat in the middle of a privet hedge outside her best friend’s apartment, planning her murder. She’d been there for an hour, her limbs bent like paperclips. She rubbed her arms where the hedge had scratched her and twisted to see a spider dangling beside her. Why hadn’t she worn long sleeves for heaven’s sake? She shifted, crouched back on her heels and peered up at the darkening sky. The air was dank and chilly and the smell of privet pungent in her nostrils. This vigil wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done, but she had to find out if her suspicions were correct.

A car pulled up. She sank back into the hedge, holding her breath and watching as a familiar figure crossed the road, strode down the path whistling, and let himself into the building.

Her breath came out in a rush. Her fingers tightened around the branch above her and it snapped, throwing her off balance. She rolled onto the ground and pressed her face to the grass, trying not to sob. Tom was supposed to be in New York, not here in Maida Vale.

She needed to be sure. After thirty minutes she clambered out, certain Tom wasn’t coming back. Cautiously she surveyed her surroundings, her breath whistling between her teeth. She shook out the kinks in her cramped limbs and through a haze of pain, disbelief and anger, reached the front door of the building.

What was Sonia’s security code? She knew it, of course she knew it – the exchange of security codes was as natural to their friendship as the secrets they shared. Her fingers fumbled on the cool smooth metal but eventually they remembered the pattern, and the door clicked open. She pushed it wide and stumbled into the foyer.

She couldn’t wait for the lift and ran up the stairs without pausing. Outside her friend’s door she wavered. Would her perfect life change irrevocably if she knocked? She thought of her less than happy single days before she met Tom. But she had to know, had to be sure. She raised her hand, then tapped on the door.

No answer. She knocked again.

“Who’s there?”

She opened her mouth to tell Sonia it was her, but as the words of greeting bubbled in her throat, she clenched her teeth, deciding it was better to retain the element of surprise. Her hand hovered above the polished wood of the door, then she brought her knuckles down on the unyielding surface and rapped again.

“Who’s there?”

A key scraped in the lock, the door opened, and Sonia stood in front of her. She’d never seen her friend look more beautiful. Her hair was dishevelled and her skin radiant and glowing, burnished with a fine mist of perspiration. Her eyes were soft and warm, but a split second later they widened in alarm.

“Holly.” Sonia’s fingers fluttered to her mouth, then down to the silk of her robe, which she tried to tighten around her. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Thought I’d drop round and see what you’re up to.” She struggled to keep her voice light, but could hear the edge of panic creeping into it. “Fancy a drink at the wine bar down the road?”

Sonia leant against the door. “It’s not convenient right now.”

“I’ll only come in for a minute then.”

“No.”

Sonia’s refusal sharpened Holly’s resolve. She twisted with speed and grace, and in one fluid movement lined her shoulder to the door and threw her seventy five kilos against it. It yielded and she slid her foot behind it, levering Sonia off balance.

“Stop,” said Sonia, in a voice as sharp as new scissors. “You can’t barge in here.” Her perfume hung between them; exotic, heavy and insidious.


Again, be sure to check back soon for my review of Transplanting Holly Oakwood and tomorrow for my interview with Di.

About the Author
I was born in Liverpool, England to parents who had a strong sense of adventure and moved many times.  I’ve lived in Canada, the United States, England and New Zealand.  I’ve worked in a variety of jobs ranging from envelope stuffer to bakery assistant, librarian to trade development executive, but none of my jobs were as much fun as the one that allowed me to write and get paid for it.  That was a few years ago, and each year it’s become more and more apparent what I want to do is write full time, a dream that first occurred to me at seventeen.

I write chick lit – light hearted and humorous stories for and about women who value their families, their friendships, their careers, their independence, who have a sense of adventure, and who live and love with passion.

Like my characters, I love my family and friends, beautiful shoes, anything sparkly, the ‘occasional’ drink, parties, and a good belly laugh.  I’m addicted to shopping, chocolate, bubble bath and anything else that smells nice, and the sort of tv programmes you’d never publicly admit to watching.

I live in a lovingly renovated home overlooking Auckland’s beautiful Waitemata Harbour, with my trusted friends Bronson Boxer and Dolce Dane.  They keep me fit and exercised, scare the burglars away, sit loyally by my side throughout my late night writing sessions, and hang on my every word when I read final drafts aloud.  They truly are my biggest fans, and I theirs!

I love my life, but not so much that there’s not room to live a load of other lives, through the hearts and minds of my characters, all of whom I adore, and some of whom I’m fortunate enough to call friend.

Connect with Di
http://www.dijoneswrites.com
http://www.amazon.com/Transplanting-Holly-Oakwood-ebook/dp/B008AFPGII/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1
http://www.amazon.com/Meeting-Miss-Mollie-ebook/dp/B00BA8T03O/ref=pd_sim_b_1

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April 25, 2013

wbn 2013

Tuesday night, I shared 20 copies of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood with one of our local community centers as part of World Book Night. They have youth and adult reading programs aimed at promoting literacy in Lincoln. I couldn't think of a better home for those books than a program committed to WBN's mission of providing books to light or non-readers.

This year's WBN approach was different than the one I took last year. You can read about last year's adventures here, but basically, I walked around Downtown Lincoln -- specifically the bar district -- with my little sister and shared our copies of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany.

I'm not sure which approach is best.

The one I took last year was great, because I had a chance to interact with people one-on-one and engage in conversations about reading. But, in the time since sharing those books, I've had many of those people say the book is still sitting on their shelf waiting to be read. That's a little disappointing, but also understandable. You can't change a person's behavior from non-reader to reader magically. It takes a willingness on their part.

This year's approach undoubtedly took less time, which made me feel a little guilty. Initially, I planned to divide the books up amongst several local organizations needing books. I did some research, placed a few calls to find out how to go about donating and if they were even interested. When I spoke with the reading program organizer, and he explained what they would do with those books, I knew this was the perfect home for them.

I'm thrilled to know that because of the dedicated team and volunteers at this center, those 20 copies of The Handmaid's Tale will be read by at least 20 people who are determined to become readers.

Did anyone else participate in WBN this year? Which books did you give away? This year's list was pretty darn impressive -- I loved so many of the books on the list.

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April 24, 2013

send my regards to hogwarts

Blogger's Note: During my travels the past few years, I had the opportunity to visit various booked-related hot spots. Originally posted on my now-defunct blog, Lit Adventures, this is one of my Literary Adventures. Enjoy.

A magical photo opp. And look, it's labeled so all of your
Facebook friends won't wonder why you're standing
in front of a cart attached to a wall for no apparent
reason! Plus, it's easier to find that way.

Let's cross the pond to jolly old England for today's Lit Adventure.

Harry Potter fans have the chance to pretend they are on the way to Hogwarts when they are in London's King Cross Station.

Visiting is easy. You go partway between platforms 9 and 10 -- 3/4 of the way to be exact -- and the powers that be have attached a shopping cart to the wall so you can pretend you're going through the wall to Hogwarts.

The station itself looks kind of cool, too.
At least it did when I went. They've done
some renovations.

Now for a couple quick facts about King's Cross Station:
  • More than 40 million people pass through King's Cross Station annually. That's a lot, but makes sense when you factor in just how big London is and how well connected rail is throughout Europe.
  • King Cross is presently a construction zone of sorts. The first phase completed with the opening of the new western departures concourse in March 2012. The final stage will be the removal of the 1973 extension and the restoration of the original facade. Passengers will depart the station through the front onto a new public square.
Something to keep in mind: The real King's Cross Station was not used for filming the Harry Potter movies. The exterior -- and interior -- look different than they do in the movies, but Hollywood always takes liberties with the books, am I right?

There's not much more to it then that, but it is a fun photo if you are in the area. Plus, I found the station easy to navigate, which was great when my classmates and I found ourselves departing town.

See look, there's me at Platform 9 and 3/4
five years ago when I was in England.
See how young and pudgy I look?
I'm still pudgy, but we're working on it.
At least I look happy.

Related Links
Cauldron Cakes Recipe from Reading in the Kitchen
King's Cross Station Station
Greater London AuthorityVisit London

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April 23, 2013

interview with the author of 'reckless abandon'

Blogger's Note: Today, I'm pleased to welcome author Jenn Flynn-Shon, on tour with her novella, Reckless Abandon (read my review here). Thanks so much for stopping by.

Change the Word: What was the inspiration for this story?
Jenn Flynn-Shon: One day I was chatting with my husband about what would happen if he was suddenly missing when I came home from doing something mundane like grocery shopping. I felt like I’d been smacked with the idea stick and dove right into the devious side of my personality to start piecing together what kind of a guy goes missing and just how far his wife might go to try to hunt him down and bring him home. Especially when the only person she can trust to help her is her very first love.

CTW: How did writing a second book differ from writing the debut?
JFS: On so many levels! I felt more disciplined in my writing this time around and had a solid idea of exactly how I wanted the story to open and close as well as many of the twists and turns that would happen along the way. With the first, Ripple the Twine, I was focused on love and friendship, how different types of people can build their own version of family and navigate the perils of life and love in a big city like Boston. The story spanned a longer period of time but focused on only one geographic place. With Reckless Abandon I knew it had to be much tighter regarding timeframe of the characters so it was more challenging to maintain the frenetic pace throughout especially because they criss-cross the country to multiple locations. Plus the relationships in the second one were going to be a lot messier, a lot more complicated, so I had to flesh out who they really were as well as what they purported to be through their dialogue. The biggest challenge though was that the genres were vastly different. In Chick-Lit I could get into my character’s head and have her spin a little, with Romantic Suspense the spin had to be firmly rooted in the background. The reader had to know it was there without anyone telling them.

CTW: What lessons did you learn from book one that you were able to apply to this story? 
JFS: I’d say the greatest lesson I learned was how to write a more captivating opening scene. With Sara in Ripple I like that she was out doing her morning routine by herself because it fit the character in many ways. But it was somewhat slower getting to know everyone and their motivations. In Reckless I dropped Shaw right into the drama without describing a moment of her day-to-day that came just before it. Nothing about her life was ever going to be day-to-day again, it wouldn’t have worked with Shaw the way it did for Sara.

CTW: What is one trait you share with your character?
JFS: There are several things that Shaw and I have in common but her low blood sugar crashes stick out as a character trait I can identify with most. I know how it feels to get that way after not eating for a long time and it can be debilitating. Plus I like that it sets up one of the first moments between Shaw and JJ where JJ stops being so bitter and shows her he cares.

CTW: What most surprised you writing this book?
JFS: Probably that I wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought I might be writing scenes where people were murdered. I mean it wasn’t my favorite thing to write but it’s real. Life is real and messy and sometimes people get killed. I think that’s why I liked the twist of Suspense as opposed to Chick-Lit. In Chick-Lit there can be death too but it rarely turns out to be murder. I was happy to find I had that edge inside me.

CTW: If you were stranded on a desert island and could take one book with you (and no eReaders, because your battery would die), what book would that be and why?
JFS: Well I’d have to say The Idiots Guide to Getting Off a Deserted Island but I don’t think it’s been written yet so I’d settle for The Ultimate Survival Manual, because I could say Shakespeare or Weiner but neither of those people are going to tell me how to spear a boar or avoid a smoke monster.

CTW: Do you belong to any writing groups? How do they benefit your writing?
JFS: I do! The Scottsdale Society of Women Writers is a group I’ve been actively involved with since fall of 2011 and I love the energy those women have. Mingling with other writers is great for character building and just knowing that I’m not the only one out here working by clicking keys alone in my house all day. There have been some great presenters there and I’ve learned about some amazing conferences I attended last year that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the inside track on. This year I joined the Arizona Authors Association and plan to get more involved with their workshops and meetings as the year goes on.

CTW: What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
JFS: I had two teachers in High School who were some of the earliest champions of my work and both offered the same piece of excellent advice – publish. For any Writer who might be serious about pursuing it as a full time career like I am there really is no better advice on Earth. We can flex our creative muscles writing and writing all day long and while that’s great for the creative side it does nothing for the need to put it out there. Publish. On a blog, a letter to the editor, a novel, a series, memoir, an article, well-constructed tweets. It doesn’t matter how or what just do it. Being able to write is a gift and it deserves to be shared with the world.

CTW: What's up next for you and your writing?
JFS: I’m slowly trying to get back into writing again after some health stuff sidelined me this past fall and winter. Posting on a couple different blogs I have is proving cathartic as well as helping me improve my prose and voice again. By late spring I hope to have both an expanded book of poetry fully edited and available for sale, as well as a solid first draft to the sequel to Reckless Abandon and the scribblings for the third in that series.

CTW: Any final thoughts?
JFS: Just one – thanks so much for letting me take over your space for the day, Laura! I appreciate the thoughtful questions and room to answer them! Happy writing and reading

About the Author
Hi, my name is Jenn Flynn-Shon and I’m the Author of two books (Ripple the Twine, Reckless Abandon), a Chapbook (Trying for the Moon), multiple Zines, and Randomness and Lunacy (a digital-journal blog).

I’ve been writing since age eleven and began penning fiction by age thirteen. My first publication was a poem published under a pen name in Bop Magazine in 1989. Since then I’ve had articles and interviews published online and in print.

I’m a two-time winning participant in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) (2009, 2010), an active member of the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers and Arizona Authors Association.

When I make time to relax I love to hang out with my husband at our home in Phoenix, AZ, explore the country on road trips, watch my Boston sports teams, share laughs with friends and family, and read everything from blogs to novels. I make a point to write daily, and I’m a shameless self-promoter.

Connect with Jenn and Buy the BookBlog - http://randomnessandlunacy.blogspot.com/
Writesy - http://writesy.blogspot.com/
Ripple the Twine - http://www.lulu.com/shop/jenn-flynn-shon/ripple-the-twine/paperback/product-20117696.html
"Reckless Abandon" - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009YWT2RW
Amazon - http://amazon.com/author/jennshon
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/jennshon
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/JennFlynnShon
Twitter - http://twitter.com/jennshon

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April 22, 2013

book review: reckless abandon

A woman's life changes drastically and forever when she must enlist the help of her ex to find her missing husband in Jenn Flynn-Shon's novella, Reckless Abandon.

Shaw McLeary returns from a trip to the grocery store to find her house in tatters, her valuables stolen and her husband missing. When she overhears the responding officer being shot, she goes on the run. In her desperation, she turns to the one person she could always trust, and the first person she loved, JJ Anderson. A private investigator, JJ is still hurting from Shaw's abandonment years earlier.

Though reluctant to get involved, JJ can't resist helping Shaw -- especially with her life in danger. Their search for answers takes them from Arizona to New York. Along the way, they must sift through clues about Shaw's husband while also addressing the old feelings from their past that neither seems capable of forgetting.

Shaw makes a solid narrator for this story. Even though she comes with plenty of flaws -- namely her desire to stick by her husband, who has been a bit of a dick in recent history, even before fleeing -- she also approaches the story with the mind of a writer. That means, she's able to question developments, look for details and make plenty of conjectures.

Her ex, JJ, was a great character, and I instantly felt an attachment to him. He was apparently responsible and steady enough to put in his 20 years of police service and invest his experience and pay in a future career as a PI. Though a bit frosty at first, he's really quite sweet. I had a swoonable moment every time he showed how much he worried about Shaw's well-being and was able to put aside his hurt feelings to help her.

Because I liked them so much, I wanted to know why these two kids weren't able to figure it out earlier. I was thrilled to see them uncover some of their issues from the past even as they solved their current problems.

Throwing Shaw and JJ together and then sending them on the run made for plenty of tense moments. Adding in their history provided even more.

Fast-paced and intriguing, this book kept me turning page after page. As we're headed into vacation season, this would be a great book to take along if you're looking for a sexy mystery to keep you busy on a plane ride or drive.

Rating: 4.5 of 5

About the Author
Hi, my name is Jenn Flynn-Shon and I’m the Author of two books (Ripple the Twine, Reckless Abandon), a Chapbook (Trying for the Moon), multiple Zines, and Randomness and Lunacy (a digital-journal blog).

I’ve been writing since age eleven and began penning fiction by age thirteen. My first publication was a poem published under a pen name in Bop Magazine in 1989. Since then I’ve had articles and interviews published online and in print.

I’m a two-time winning participant in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) (2009, 2010), an active member of the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers and Arizona Authors Association.

When I make time to relax I love to hang out with my husband at our home in Phoenix, AZ, explore the country on road trips, watch my Boston sports teams, share laughs with friends and family, and read everything from blogs to novels. I make a point to write daily, and I’m a shameless self-promoter.

Connect with Jenn and Buy the BookBlog - http://randomnessandlunacy.blogspot.com/
Writesy - http://writesy.blogspot.com/
Ripple the Twine - http://www.lulu.com/shop/jenn-flynn-shon/ripple-the-twine/paperback/product-20117696.html
"Reckless Abandon" - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009YWT2RW
Amazon - http://amazon.com/author/jennshon
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/jennshon
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/JennFlynnShon
Twitter - http://twitter.com/jennshon

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April 20, 2013

letter from camp - 4/20/13

I'm a classy dame, which means I've selected only the finest of
chocolate for this s'more I'm a'makin' this month. It's gonna be delish.

Dear friends,

It's 4/20, y'all, and you know what that means... That's right, only 10 more days of Camp NaNoWriMo! (Hahahaha... oh puns...)

If you read my earlier posts this week then you'll know I had a fantastic time in Colorado visiting one of my friends. Even though my Monday night flight home was canceled, and my weekend jaunt became more stressful, I still found ample time to write.

I'm currently working on two stories that are contributing to my word count. One is a novel and the other is a 10,000-word novelette. You can read my post about it (here), but basically while I was in Colorado I was uber inspired to write this story that I needed to work on this summer, and I decided to put it to paper while it was still fresh in my mind.

I'm loving this story and have had so much fun writing it. I'm finding that my success with this story is inspiring me to work on other stories as well, which is great.

I've managed to stay far enough ahead that I can take off one or two days of writing each week. Which was nice. Because last night, after an emotionally draining week, it was nice to take an evening off and relax knowing my story would still be here when I opened the document next.

As of today I have 26,061 -- which means I need to write 600 words, today, to stay on track. That's a good place to be.

XOXO
Laura

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April 18, 2013

when inspiration strikes

It doesn't happen often that I'm struck with inspiration when I can actually do something about it. But fortunately for me, that's happened the past couple of weeks.

After clearing my schedule for Camp NaNoWriMo, I find myself excited to write, willing to write and able to write.

When I say I have the time and ability to work on my writing, what I mean is I've told myself it's OK to be late posting book reviews this month and I've given myself that brain power to do it. I still don't necessarily have more time in a day than before -- I guess except for subtracting the time it takes to read two or three books in a week.

But I'm still struck with the inspiration to write at moments in my day when writing isn't on my agenda. It can be when I'm in a car (driving or as a passenger), sitting at my desk or spending time with a friend or family member.

This month, instead of saying, "Oh, I'll come back to it later," I've tried a new approach. I've stopped whatever I was doing to jot down a note or even write a few lines of dialogue while the idea is fresh in my mind. I'll make a note in my iPhone or write it on a notepad. Then, as soon as I have time to commit to opening up the word document for my story, I do.

And the writing process goes so much more smoothly. And I find myself better able to focus on what I was supposed to be doing at that time if I can just settle the issue of my story. It's a big win for me.

The only downside of this writing freedom is that my pile of books to review is getting bigger. But I'll get to them. If I made a commitment, I'll find a way to fulfill it. You just might not see many more book reviews until May. And, OK, my pile of dirty laundry is also getting bigger, my house is becoming messier and I have a few other little commitments that need taken care of this weekend.

But I'll find the time. I've only just realized the value of making time for my writing, too, and I love it.

Now that I've finished this rambling post, I'm going to write a few more paragraphs before I dry my hair.

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April 16, 2013

go cougars

Blogger's Note: During my travels the past few years, I had the opportunity to visit various booked-related hot spots. Originally posted on my now-defunct blog, Lit Adventures, this is one of my Literary Adventures. Enjoy.


When Ana Steele first sets eyes on Christian Grey in E L James Fifty Shades of Grey, she is a senior English major at Washington Statue University Vancouver, weeks away from graduation.

On a recent trip to Portland, I decided to cross the Columbia River to check out what the school was all about. Located off Interstate-5, where -- let's face it -- everything in that book seems to be close proximity to, WSUV is about 15 minutes from Portland.

I visited on a Sunday morning in August, so needless to say there was not a lot of activity to see. This was probably for the best. I don't want to seem like a creeper when I'm off on my travels, after all, and I never like disturbing the natural flow of events when I visit any place. But at that time of day and year the university looked beautiful.

If you're like me and enjoy checking out various college campuses, this one is worth the stop. With plenty of trees, mountains and walking trails to surround it, I hope the students who attend can appreciate their good fortune in living somewhere so pretty.

I was surprised by how new everything seemed. Then, I did some research and realized the university itself was established in 1983, and the campus opened in 1996. That explained a few things.




Some quick facts about WSUV from the school's website:
  • Enrollment: 2,980 students; 2,357 full-time
  • Female: 55 percent, Male: 45 percent
  • More than 140 fulltime, Ph.D. faculty
  • 351-acre campus
  • 10 miles north of the Columbia River
  • 13 buildings
Related Sources:
City of Vancouver
City of Portland
Washington State University Vancouver







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April 15, 2013

a delightful detour

Near Frisco, Colo.
Greetings from Colorado!

I'm on the third and final day of a short visit to spend time with one of my friends.

On Saturday we did a little shopping, and I made a pilgrimage to IKEA. While I was disappointed not to find a slipcover for my couch, I did pick-up some cheap and cute picture frames and a new laptop thing, which will hopefully prevent me from getting carpel tunnel.

I also bought a small rug -- I know, I'm nuts, but it'll really tie my whole room together -- some new flip-flops for when Mother Nature gets it together and stops sending snow our way and a few other odds and ins. I think I should be able to fit most of it in my luggage, but I spied a post office not far from here just in case.

Yesterday, we made the drive to Breckenridge. This was my first time seeing a mountain ski town, and it was everything I imagined and ridiculously adorable.

As an added perk, we were stuck in traffic on the drive up, and my imagination got to working, and I came up with the opening scene for a holiday-themed novelette I'll release later this year. By the time we made it to Breckenridge -- and after I ate breakfast and had a couple of coffees -- everywhere I look I found more inspiration for this story.

Here's a couple of photos of some inspiring views:



I took a couple dozen more, because everywhere I looked I saw my story.

Thankfully, my friend is a fellow writer and a great sounding board, so she didn't get too annoyed when every five minutes I randomly said, "What do you think about...?" or "Wouldn't this be the perfect spot for...?"

Working away during a short stop in the drive.
She also didn't hold it against me when I started jotting down notes or writing parts of a scene in my iPhone. God bless her.

By the time we arrived back in Denver for the evening, I had my two main characters developed, an outline of the story and the first scene written and a healthy start on the rest.

Before taking this lovely detour into a story I'm absolutely loving, I was still managing to hit my daily word count goals for my Camp NaNoWriMo book. Though I've had to put that story on hold for a couple of days to write this 10K-work beauty while it's fresh on my mind, I figure it all goes towards my word count. This is also the most excited I have been about writing in a while, and I can only imagine how it will carryover into my other works.

With that, I'm going to get off the interwebs and get back to writing! Talk to you later.

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April 13, 2013

letter from camp - 4/13/13

I picked up some bitchin' marshmallows to make my camp s'mores.
 Dear friends,

Not much new to report after week two of Camp NaNoWriMo. Even with taking a couple of days off from writing to live my life, I've managed to stay on top of my word count.

Unlike week one, when I woke up early and popped out a cool 1K or more before work, during week two I was just too damn tired to give that a shot. Instead, I did a little writing during my lunches, immediately after work and then another pop before bed. I found those late night sessions were my most productive. I think the writing earlier in the day would get the story brewing in my head, and by the time I sat down to write at night, I was itching to get that story written.

I continue to find new ways to weave pieces from my 2012 Script Frenzy project into this piece. I'm pleased with the results at this point, but that could always change.

One big change I made this week in this story was how I broke up my chapters. I don't know about anyone else, but deciding where one chapter ends and the next begins can be tricky for me. I've looked at what other authors do, and it seems to differ from writer to write, which leads me to believe I should quit stressing about this and just write the damn story!

This week, my mind was super focused on my writing career -- or at least the one I hope to have. I came up with a new cover art design for book one should I self publish, which is looking more and more likely. I also sketched tentative designs for book two and this WIP, which would give all of my books in this genre a cohesive look, which I love.

I also came up with a few more ideas for how to streamline edits to book two when I get back at them after finishing this story.

Something that was exciting, but also a little distracting, was that I came up with a solid idea of how to write a story -- a trilogy at that -- which has been running through my head for a year or two. That's always exciting for me when an idea I'm toying with comes to serious fruition. Now I'm hard pressed to decide if I'll start that trilogy during session two of Camp NaNoWriMo or during NaNoWriMo, as I already had one or two ideas in my mind.

Being disciplined enough to keep writing consistently has always been my problem. I can make the excuse that I work a full-time job, but if I stayed good and truly focused on my stories I could keep it happening. Now more than ever, with all of these ideas running through my head and the clock ticking, I find myself wanting to keep my focus and get over my fears of failure.

With that, I'm taking a three-day weekend to visit one of my good friends in Denver. I've packed clothes for mountain walking, because I'm an optimist, and my writing materials in case it rains/snows, because I'm a realist who has check the weather forecast. The broomies will be good enough to take care of the kittens (I hope), and I'm looking forward to spending some time with my friend, who is one of my writing buddies.

Hope you all are well.

XOXO

Laura

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April 10, 2013

rejeting rejection


After completing another round of edits on book No. 1, I decided to re-query some of the agents who previously turned me down, but said to contact them if I made edits. Instead of sending to all forty I contacted the first time around, I've sent about 12 this time.

So far, I've received five rejections, but you know what? I'm OK with that.

Sure, no one wants to be told a person doesn't believe your book is the right project for them. No one wants to hear that someone isn't willing to take a chance on you. No one likes rejection.

But I'm not throwing myself a pity party every time I receive that email. I did in summer 2011, which meant I was unhappy often. Being unhappy doesn't suit me. It prevents me from being productive at work or when I open up my WIP file. It does not pay to bum myself out every time someone says no.

This time, I understand the publishing world a little bit better. There are thousands of aspiring authors who believe their book is the next best-seller, or at least worthy of a spot on a bookshelf. For an agent to want to represent your book, he or she must believe your story will turn a good profit and be willing to fight for it. They can't say yes to everyone.

I think what has made this time most different is the fact that I have more realistic expectations. I also know that if I can't find an agent or a publisher, I can still share my stories with others. Maybe it won't be in a grandiose way, but that doesn't mean it can't still be special.

What matters most is that I believe in my dream of being a novelist, and I continue to work toward it. Having confidence and a can-do attitude matters whether you're trying to get published, buy a new house, find a new job or achieve any other goal.

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April 9, 2013

on the sound

Blogger's Note: During my travels the past few years, I had the opportunity to visit various booked-related hot spots. Originally posted on my now-defunct blog, Lit Adventures, this is one of my Literary Adventures. Enjoy.

Puget Sound, between Bainbridge Island and Seattle.

A random survey of my bookshelf shows a large number of novels -- particularly romance -- set in Seattle. From E L James Fifty Shades trilogy (read my take on the books here) to Rachel Gibson's Chinook hockey team series (read about them here), and you'll find characters living and loving in the Emerald City.

Even more iconic than Starbucks or the Space Needle, is Puget Sound. The seaway makes up the western coast of the city and borders other parts of Washington, from Olympia north.

After reading these books, I wanted to see the Sound even more than any of the other sights. In Fifty Shades Darker, Christian Grey takes Ana Steele for a boat ride through the sound, and the view sounded amazing and I wanted to see it from the water, too.

Boat tours and rentals are available, but a quick and cheap way to take a boat ride across Puget Sound is on board one of the ferries. I took mine from Bainbridge Island to Seattle near sunset. With the sun to my back, I had a perfect first glimpse of Seattle's skyline.

Plus, for those of us landlocked dwellers, getting to ride on a ferry is a bit of an adventure. From lining up in a car to board a boat, then doing it again, to leaving it below deck while you go up to play, it is quite the adventure. Just follow directions, and you will be fine.

Taking the ferry into Seattle after touring the Olympic Peninsula.

Ferries run regularly from morning to night, but you can check the schedule here.

I took other opportunities to see Puget when I drove north up to Edmonds, Wash., and when I was down in Olympia and on Bainbridge. No matter where you take a look, the water, trees and mountains make it an amazing view. Spending a few days there explained why so many authors find the Puget Sound area an appealing place to set their stories.

Puget Sound facing north from Edmonds, Wash.

Other Resources







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April 8, 2013

building a legacy

Growing up in Nebraska, I learned a few facts early on in my life.

1. Soybeans are a viable source of food and energy.
2. The Ogallala Aquifer is an important source of water, and we have to protect it.
3. Husker football is serious, serious business.

At an early age, I knew that Saturdays in fall were reserved for football. Every other day of the week or year, it was a viable topic of conversation, and one could never discuss or dissect it too much.

As a child of the 80s and 90s, I grew up during a golden era for football in Nebraska. I watched the team I -- like a good chunk of the other kids in the state -- idolized win back-to-back National Championships in 1994 and 1995. They took a year off, but came back to take the 1997 title.

Yeah, I totally watched this happen when it happened:



During the games, I knew winning was important. But thanks in part to one young man, I learned that who you are, what you do and how you face hardships is what defines you as a person. More than holding school records or a championship ring, if you are a good person, you can change people's lives long after you are gone.

When I was 8, I developed a serious crush on one of the players on the team. When Tommie Frazier, the star responsible for the play you saw above, was put on the injured list, because of blood clots, Brook Berringer stepped up to lead the team, particularly during that 1994 season. He was amazing.

Then, when Tommie was recovered, he graciously returned to his back-up status, doing what he could to support his team, even if it meant he didn't get to see much playtime.

While his legacy on the field as a talented athlete was enough to make any little girl develop a crush, it was his actions off the field that sealed the deal. In addition to being a man who defined the term team player, he was a steward of the community, reading to children at schools, visiting people in the hospital and so on. As my mom put it, Brook was the real deal. What you saw on TV and in the newspapers was what you got.

Brook was killed in a plane crash in 1996 the week before the NFL draft, where he was expected to go as a late-round pick. The news shattered our community. In the aftermath, former teammates, friends and fans remembered the young man for the way he inspired our imaginations by showing us the value of being a good person and a pillar of strength.

This video from ESPN about his life shows that:



Years later, Brook's legacy lives on. At every spring game, including the game my family and I went to this weekend, a group of outstanding young men are recognized in his honor. The Brook Berringer Citizenship Team recognizes football players who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide excellent leadership, involvement and service. Every year, before we cheer on the Red and White teams during the spring scrimmage, we pause for a moment to reflect on his life and to commemorate his legacy, which lives on in these players.

The players who received the honor at this year's game on Saturday certainly deserved it. When you watch this clip, you'll see why:



How awesome is that? When you see your team do something like that, it's hard to care about something like a national title.

You can learn more about Jack Hoffman here or by visiting his Facebook page here or by reading this awesome article from my old newspaper here.

And now friends, we're going to get a little deep for a Monday morning.

After this year's Spring Game, rather than thinking about how Taylor Martinez's passing game looks, or analyzing the defense's ability to stop the run, I've been thinking about what matters most for the legacy you leave behind.

For a football player, is it setting the school record for most rushing yards in a game or is it helping make even one person's life better, because you were in it?

As a writer, what is more important to me? Is it becoming a best-selling author? Or is it writing a story that leaves a positive mark on a person? Is it being the type who helps others? These are not mutually exclusive, you can be all of them. But maybe I need to think a little more closely about what I'm doing for those last two points than focusing on achieving the first. At the very least, it's something to strive for going forward.

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April 5, 2013

letter from camp nanowrimo (4/5/13)

My favorite part of camping: S'mores. In week one of Camp NaNoWriMo,
I'm creating the foundation of my story, just like this graham cracker
is the foundation of a delightfully gooey snack to eat around the campfire.

Dear Friends,

I came to Camp NaNoWriMo on April 1 in hopes it will help me make significant headway on another book. This year at camp, you can set your own writing goals for the month and work on whatever project you like rather than sticking to the grueling 50,000-word schedule that comes with National Novel Writing Month.

After spending the majority of my brain power the past few months editing my other books to move them toward publishing, it was a bit of a challenge getting my mind-set back in creation mode. Now that I'm back in the swing of it, I'm finding it the perfect blend of fun, excitement and agony.

When I arrived at camp, I had every intention of setting a goal of a lady's 30,000 words for the month. On day two, I changed it to 45,000 words.

Why? Because the book I am writing this time around has so much prep work that has already gone into it. Last April, I participated in the now-defunct Script Frenzy and wrote 100 pages towards a web series, which was based on the idea I had for this book. Because I have so many scenes developed and the nuts and bolts of dialogue -- not to mention characters that are already characters -- I found myself realizing I could accomplish much more this month.

This morning, I am sitting pretty with more than 6,800 words written in this document and a clear plan of where I am going.

It hasn't all been smooth sailing. Forcing myself to write has been only marginally easier than making myself go to the gym (something I haven't done in a while, actually -- I should get on that). Still, I have managed to wake up early every day this week and written at least a little something for my novel. I've had mixed success writing in the evenings after work, because some days I am just too tired.

At this point, I'm also struggling with wondering if this story is even a story. I looked at my rough outline last night (which I made to after a year of tinkering with a detailed working synopsis that seemed too complicated) and wondered if anyone other than me would care about these characters. I suppose that's a challenge most writers face. It is our job not only to tell these stories, but to make readers care.

Now, I better go make my bed before cabin inspections. Hope all is well at home.

XOXO

Laura

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April 3, 2013

book review: the reluctant earl

An earl strives to uncover the truth behind his father's untimely demise, and the plot thickens when he catches a governess trying to steal information in C.J. Chase's The Reluctant Earl.

After losing her only brother and her parents, Leah Vance is left virtually penniless. She is also left guardian of her sister, who lives in an asylum. With the family coffers depleted from financing her sister's care, and with her paltry salary as a governess inadequate to cover the costs, Leah has resorted to stealing secrets from the master of her house and his guests and selling them to an unknown source. When the newly minted Earl of Chambelston arrives at his long-estranged sister's home, Leah hopes she will find something in his papers that will satisfy her contact.

Julian DeChambelle is shocked to find a young woman rifling through his items when he returns to his bedchamber for the night. Not only is he surprised by the woman's actions, but by his reaction. Instantly intrigued by her, he asks her to become a double agent for him in lieu of reporting her near theft.

Set in the backdrop of late-to-post Napoleonic England and with some Christian themes, the story carries a heavy dose of suspense and mystery as Leah and Julian try to figure out who is behind the series of events causing them trouble even as they slip into love with each other.

Both Julian and Leah were great characters. I was instantly drawn to them, and could understand each of their plights -- even if I can't exactly relate, because I'm neither a governess nor an earl. Their chemistry was instant and sweet to watch as it unfolded.

A longtime reader of historical romance, this was the first time I read a book where the focus was on a potential class uprising linked to the lean years following Britain's war with France. This instantly gave the story a unique element and I found myself curious to hear how everything followed.

I was not sure what to expect with this story. A long-time reader of romance novels, this was my first in the inspirational category. With the emphasis on the mystery and the couple, the history's historical romance nature was the dominant element in the story. For a first-time inspirational reader like me, this was probably a good way to try out a new genre.

All in all I enjoyed the hours I spent reading this book

Rating: 4 of 5

For More Information
Harlequin's Website
Author's Website

Buy the Book
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0373829531/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0373829531&linkCode=as2&tag=chathewor03-20

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April 2, 2013

la push, baby

Blogger's Note: During my travels the past few years, I had the opportunity to visit various booked-related hot spots. Originally posted on my now-defunct blog, Lit Adventures, this is one of my Literary Adventures. Enjoy.

La Push Beach in Washington.

For Twi-Hard fans of the Team Jacob variety, making the pilgrimage to La Push, Wash., is a must. For the rest of us, it is an important piece of the Twilight saga, which brings to life many aspects of the series, namely Bella's visits to her friend and his reservation.

Home to the Quileute Nation, La Push is located on the Pacific Ocean coast about 15 miles from Forks, Wash. To get to La Push, take US-101 to Ocean Front Drive. There are signs along the way directing you.

These signs are easy to follow and will take you there.

Enjoy the scenery as you make the drive. These woods are basically how I imagined them while reading Stephenie Meyers' books. In addition to checking out the trees, you will also note a few spots specifically for Twilight fans.

Lots of trees line the roads en route to La Push.

First up: the Treaty Line between the Quileutes and the Cullens. Read about the Treaty Line here.

Crossing the Treaty Line into Quileute land.

You will also see signs for lodging, much of it targeted for Twi-Hards. One such spot is Jacob Black's house. In front of the cabin, there is a mailbox and motorcycle, which all of you Team Jacob fans will want to take a photo with. I am, and will always be, Team Edward, so snapping this photo was good enough for me.

A replica of the Black's mailbox and Jacob's
motorcycle en route to La Push.

Once I made it a little farther into the reservation, I was excited to see clouds of fog, mist or whatever you call it descending. Though Forks was hot and sunny while I visited -- it was August -- this mystical atmosphere was how I imagined most of the terrain appearing in the books.

Fog amongst the trees.

The road takes you by many beaches. I wanted to see the ocean, so I went until the road ended. The coast is rocky, and the water is cold, but if you are determined to set foot in the water like I am, you can manage it. Just be careful when you climb down the rocks. Not only do you want to protect yourself, but it is important to take care of the environment.

Toes in the black sand and ocean water.

While we are on the topic, there are a few bits of etiquette to keep in mind. While La Push is an interesting place for us fans to visit, remember it is not only a community's home, but land of cultural and historical significance. According to their website,
The coast.
  • Pay attention to signs and obey tribal rules and regulations.
  • Respect the privacy of residential communities.
  • Ask before photographing or recording an individual, event or activity.
  • Do not pick up or remove artifacts or objects. This includes sand, rocks, shells, minerals, marine growth, driftwood from beach, eagle feathers, broken pottery, etc. 
  • Burial grounds and religious ceremonies are sacred. Do not enter.

The main point is be respectful. Imagine how you would feel if a bunch of people appeared at your house and wanted to poke around. Even if you gave them permission to take a look, you would want them to take care. Use common sense.

You should also review the photography policy here. Basically, avoid snapping photos of copyrighted materials, dances or ceremonies.

All in all, if you are in the area, this is a great site to stop and visit. The tribe and the lands are an important part of the book series, but more than that, they are an important part of local culture. Paying tribute is worth the time.

Me, enjoying the chilly ocean after scaling the rocks.

Related Links
City of Forks
Forks Chamber of Commerce
Forks Chamber of Commerce Twilight Page
Quileute Nation
Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Page

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