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Posts Categorized: Travel Log

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Travel Log: Guatemala

Posted by Irish in Travel Log0 Comments

Those who know me know that I love to travel and for the last few years I’ve been trying to see at least one new place every year. This year, I had things pretty well locked with visiting Atlanta, GA in January and then Edinburgh, Rome, Prague and Barcelona later on this year. But then I had to renew my passport and the empty pages were just begging to be filled. Then around the second week of June I stumbled on a great deal from Gate 1 Travel for a 5 day trip to Guatemala which left on 30June. I debated back and forth and then before I could say Guatemala I was booking my flight and counting down the days.

Day 1: Flying into Guatemala City 

My flight into the city was scheduled to arrive a little after 1 pm Guatemala time (2 hours behind Eastern, my local time zone) and by the time I deplaned, got through customs, and arrived at my hotel it was almost 2. It then took until almost 3 for my room to be ready. I was tired from the flight so spent the time in the hotel lobby bar grabbing a drink and reading my book and just relaxing. Initially had some grand plans to go out and explore the city but after checking in I was hungry so grabbed dinner at one of the restaurants in the hotel and by the time I was done it was getting late and I was getting tired so I just called it a night. Lame I know, but some days sleep just wins.

  

In Guatemala City I stayed at the Barcelo Hotel which was pretty nice. The lobby was pretty swank with nice, friendly staff and an ATM where I could pull out some Quetzals (the local currency). My room was on the 10th floor and while the view was nothing super glamorous I did have two balconies and a king sized bed which was pretty nice. I also forgot to take decent photos of the hotel so I grabbed the snaps above from the internet.

Day 2: Antigua

My first full day in Guatemala began bright and early as I had a 7:15 am meet up in the hotel lobby with my Gate 1 guide, Sergio, and to begin the drive to Antigua. Antigua is a UNESCO World heritage site and was founded in the 1500s and originally named Santiago. You can see iconography of this initial name throughout the city which was also the original capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala. Antigua is a city that is prone to earthquakes and much of what was originally built has collapsed and new things built in their place. We did see an old cathedral from the 1600s which is a shell of its former self but still really beautiful even though its barely standing.

   

Antigua is a city that is filled with such amazing history and architecture and I really wish that I had more time to wander around explore it more fully. Its colorful and vibrant and there is something to look at on every building. There are quaint little courtyards in many of the buildings that are open to the public and I could easily have spent a few days there. If I ever make it back to Guatemala I will definitely spend more time in this fabulous place. I highly recommend the city to anyone who goes to Guatemala. There is a reason that its on the UNESCO world heritage site after all.

After having one of the best lunches and discovering a new favorite cerveza (Muy Antigua, a local brew) we headed back to the bus and drove another few hours up into the highlands to our next stop, Chichicastenango.

Day 3: Chichicastenango & Lake Atitlan 

Chichicastenango is a town best known for the market that pops up there twice a week. Its crazy how the town literally transformed overnight and the streets became much narrower as they turned into a literal maze of shop after shop after shop all selling a wide variety of things. There were shops selling fruit, live birds, leather goods, jewlry, toys, tortillas, and pretty much anything that you could think of. It was crowded and chatotic and easy to get lost in the narrow aisles. From every stall people are calling out to you trying to get you to stop and if you do then they really amp up the pressure to buy. Its also expected, and encouraged, to bargain so whatever price the shopkeeper gives you always come back with something lower and eventually you meet in the middle. I liked bargaining but it was also the hardest part as the people in this area are so poor and the items so cheap (1 Quetzal is around 14 cents) that I felt bad at not spending full price on things.

 

In Chichicastenango, I stayed at the Mayan Inn which is a small hotel but also a really unique place to stay. The hotel spans across the street and I had to cross it in a monsoon to get to the bar and dining areas. Each room in the hotel is different and is like a mini-museum and best of all they all come with fireplaces. I wasn’t going to light mine as the temperatures weren’t that cold but in the end I just had to because how often do you get to have a cozy fireplace in a hotel? Another unique thing about this hotel is that each room is assigned a caretaker and this guy not only answers the bell when you ring it (for when you need help lighting said fireplace) but he also cleans the room, handles your luggage, and serves you in the restaurant.

By far though, one of the most interesting things about Chichicastenango was the cemetery which was a short walk from my hotel. It was bright and colorful and just a fun place to explore.

Lake Atitlan 

After spending the morning in the market we drove a few hours to the town of Panajachel which is one of the villages on Lake Atitlan which is the deepest lake in Guatemala. The lake itself is a massive crater of an old volcano and its surrounded by volcanoes. We got lucky on the day we went and while it wasn’t a bright and sunny day the rains held off until after we got to town and got to see the lake. The lake is massive and the views are really pretty and I can only imagine how much prettier it would be on a sunny day.

Day 4: Tikal

My final day in Guatemala was the part of the trip that I was looking forward to most, Tikal. My day started around 4 am (ugh! So early!) but we needed to get to the airport for our flight to Flores. The plane was larger than I thought but also a propeller plane so that was different. What was also nice is that on the plane we got not just beverage service but also a snack box….for a 45 minute flight…along with nice, talkative, friendly flight attendants. The US could remember a thing or two from Guatemala.

Once in Flores we got on a bus and drove another hour or so to Tikal which is in the middle of the jungle. We then spent the next 5 hours hiking through the jungle and up and down ruins and just seeing so many amazing things. Only about 20% of Tikal has been excavated and it really is impressive just how much they let people touch and walk on.

The first view of the Grand Plaza sort of sneaks up on you. Oh, on of the first things you see is the back of Temple 1 but it doesn’t fully prepare you for the overlook at the plaza. Its just so big and open and looks just how you see in pictures and movies but bigger and greener and just more. There are times when you think that you aren’t in a real place because its just so grand and impressive! Walking up to the top of Temple 2 to over look the plaza is break taking and I still can’t believe that I was there. That I was standing in a spot that’s been around since ancient times. Its hard not to wonder what life was like for those living in Tikal or why their civilization collapsed and the people moved on.

After exploring the Grand Plaza there was more hiking and ruins seen until we reached Temple IV. Temple IV is still most unexcavated and rises 212 feet with the top just over the tree line. The sunrise here is supposed to be spectacular but that wasn’t part of our agenda. It was a long climb up and there are times when I thought of turning back but I persisted and it was worth it.

Once on top of the pyramid you learn that safety isn’t a high concern for the Guatemalans as there are no guardrails and not a lot of room to walk around. The view is absolutely breathtaking. Nothing but blue skies and greenery and in the distance the tops of Temples I and II from the Grand Plaza. I could have sat up there for hours just in contemplation. But I was also very hungry and we were all promised food so down I went (much easier than up! lol) and we hiked backed through the jungle to a restaurant in the jungle for one of the best meals I had the entire trip. It was BBQ chicken with vegetables and soup and just so so good! But then again after a long day of hiking I’m not sure my assessment is the most accurate as I really worked up an appetite! lol

After we ate we hiked out of the jungle and then headed back to Flores. We had the opportunity to wander the town but most of us in the group found the nearest restaurant and just sat, drank and waited until it was time to head back to the airport. Needless to say I slept really well that night!!

Going home passed by in a blur, I got upgraded to first class (YAY!) and got to see some fireworks over NYC. It was pretty cool and I was so happy to be home. Not happy to find my car battery dead or the flat tire but very thankful to airport services who were able to get me up and running quickly!

I had a great time in Guatemala and would totally recommend it to anyone filled with Wanderlust and who doesn’t mind hiking through the jungle. I’m not sure that I’ll ever go back to Guatemala but I never say never. I am so glad that I went this truly was a very memorable trip.

See more of my photos on Instagram under the hashtag #gailandtheguatemalatrip.

 

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Travel Log: Korea (Guest Post + Contest from Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout)

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Post, Travel Log7 Comments

Hello, I Love You 

About The Book

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

Amazon // B&N // Books-A-Million // IndieBound // iBooks

Guest Post

Why South Korea?

Ive always loved books with non-American settings. I love travel in generalexperiencing new things, tasting new foods, and seeing the world with fresh eyes. I love how books can transport you to places youve never been or bring back memories of those you have. I can pick up Stephanie Perkinss Anna & the French Kiss and go back to my own visit to Paris or Kirsten Hubbards Wanderlove and dream about going to Guatemala.

When I started writing Hello, I Love You, the question wasnt Why South Korea?It was Why not South Korea?

I was writing a book about Korean pop music. I had been inspired by Korean dramas. It made sense to set it in Korea.

Travel is different for different people. We all see the world in unique ways, because were unique people. And I think booksand book settingsare the same. I knew from the beginning that I didnt want to write about a Korean living in Korea. I wanted to write what I knew: a foreigner stepping into a new culture and being completely overwhelmed and ultimately learning to appreciate something unfamiliar.

Ive lived in three different countries, including one in Asia. It was one of the most difficultand also excitingtimes of my life, going through extreme culture shock, having my worldview completely blown open, and realizing that I can be incredibly judgmental.

And in my book, I wanted to explore that terrifying, exhilarating ex-pat lifestyle.

When I wrote Hello, I Love You, I had never visited South Korea. Research was tough. Ive never looked at so many Google maps or read so many blogs about street food. But I was actually lucky enough to get to make a trip to Seoul right when I received an offer of representation from my agent. (Like, literally, the same week.) It was so fun to visit the places Id written about and take part in a culture I had only experienced through research and my Korean friends.

The Korea in my book isnt an insiders viewof the country and culture. Its a view from the outside looking in, from the perspective of a girl who literally hates the world and everyone in ita girl who has to be broken before she can see the wonderful thing thats right in front of her face. And its my tribute to every ex-pat out there who has ever gotten frustrated by language barriers, cried from homesickness, and eventually learned to love their new home and culture.

Places Visited in Hello, I Love You

Ganghwa Island

Bupyeong Underground Shopping Mall, Incheon

N Seoul Tower, Seoul

Myeongdong shopping district, Seoul

Gwangjang Market, Seoul

Insadong neighborhood, Seoul

Cheonggyecheon Canal, Seoul

My Favorite Contemporary YA Novels with Non-American Settings

Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard

Hostage Three, by Nick Lake

When You Were Here, by Daisy Whitney

Just One Day, by Gayle Forman

Lock & Mori, by Heather Petty

Wish You Were Italian, by Kristin Rae

About The Author

Katie M. Stout is from Atlanta, Georgia, and works for an international charity that sends her to fun places like Spain and Singapore. When she’s not writing, you can find her drinking an unhealthy amount of chai tea and listening to Girls’ Generation, Teen Top, and all her other favorite K-pop tunes.

Goodreads // Website // Twitter // Tumblr // Pinterest // Hello, I Love You Playlist 

 

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Blog Tour: The Conspiracy of Us Travel Log

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Post, Travel Log13 Comments

Blog Tour: The Conspiracy of Us Travel Log

Hello Internet!!

Today I am so happy to host Maggie Hall here on Ticket to Anywhere and learn a little bit about why she chose the setting she did for her debut novel, The Conspiracy of Us (13 January 2015, Putnam Juvenile). When I first learned that this book was set in Paris I became so excited for it. I took my first trip to this amazing city in October 2014 and have every intention of returning to it one day. I also spent a little time in the Istanbul airport and while airports aren’t my jam I would one day like to spend time in this fascinating sounding city. The Conpiracy of Us sounds also sounds fascinating and after reading Maggie’s post below I want to read it even more!

irishdarkblue

 

Conspiracy of Us

 

A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance–perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

 

Conspiracy of Us Guest Post

I knew from the beginning that CONSPIRACY would be set abroad. It makes sense for the story, of course, since the twelve families of the Circle are scattered around the globe, but setting a story in a city unfamiliar to the main character automatically makes it more of an adventure, too. Avery, my heroine, had never been out of the country before the start of this book, so I wanted settings that would be really exciting and striking for a first-time traveler.

eiffel-tower-photo

Source: http://images.mapsofworld.com/travel/eiffel-tower-photo.jpg

Of course, I immediately thought of Paris. Paris is the cliche “best place to travel” for a reason. You can walk down any random street in that city, look up, and you’re looking at a building older than the United States as a country. You’ll follow your nose to a crepe stand, and realize your life hasn’t been complete until you eat a thin sheet of pastry wrapped around a scoop of Nutella and cooked by the side of the road. You’ll almost be run over by a Vespa driven by the most chic older lady you’ve ever seen, and you’ll laugh it off. You’ll eat bread and cheese for dinner, sitting with hundreds of well-dressed French people on the banks of the Seine river, and never want to eat anything but bread and cheese again. And then you’ll look up and see the Eiffel Tower in the distance, and wonder if you’re actually in a movie, because this place isn’t real, is it? That’s Paris. It’s magical.

Istanbul

Source: http://wallsev.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Istanbul-HD-Wallpaper.jpg

And then there’s Istanbul. It’s such an interesting city—it’s on the very edge of Europe, and in some ways, it’s very European. It’s as fashionable as the big European cities, and has a feel much like some of them in ways—but if you look even slightly under the surface, there’s a side to it that no European city has, because it’s also kind of in the Middle East, with the rich traditions, colors, food, and feeling of that culture that is so different to most Western travelers. There are kebab stands on every corner in some neighborhoods. There are ladies in all manner of lovely headscarves, and also ladies in miniskirts. There are breathtakingly beautiful mosques that sound the call to prayer all through the day, and also lovely churches. Istanbul is really a study in contrast, and it makes it such a lively and intriguing city.

To me, travel means seeing the world differently. Seeing how people in other countries and other cultures go about their lives, and realizing that the world is not as small as it sometimes seems to you. Of course, when I travel, I am not usually running for my life like Avery is! But even for someone in a situation like hers, having her story go on in a place that’s as foreign to her as the revelations she’s learning along the way adds an intensity—and a beauty, I think—to her journey.

Check out the other stops on the tour

Effortlessly Reading – 1/13

Two Chicks on Books – 1/14

Ticket to Anywhere – 1/15

Mostly YA Obsessed – 1/16

Reading is My Treasure – 1/17

A Dream Within a Dream – 1/18

The Midnight Garden – 1/19

Seeing Double In Neverland – 1/20

Jessabella Reads – 1/22

The Book Cellar – 1/25

The Books Buzz – 1/29

 

 

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Travel Log: AnnaARC in Paris

Posted by Irish in Contest, Travel Log16 Comments

AnnaARC Banner

 

 

Greetings and Salutations Internet!

As some of you know I recently went on a trip to Paris with a friend and with me I brought my advanced reading copy of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, aka AnnaARC. The reason why I brought the ARC as opposed to a finished copy is this, not long before I left on the trip I was talking with AndiABC’s and she mentioned that she’d really love to find an ARC of her favorite book, Anna and the French Kiss. I told her that I thought I still had mine and did a quick look and it practically lept into my hands off my shelf so eager it was to find a new home with Andi. We then made a deal that she’d read the first Harry Potter and I would give her my ARC and since I wasn’t going to meet up with Andi until after my trip to Paris I thought that I would bring the book with me so she’d have a book that had seen the sights that were mentioned in the book. And maybe a few that weren’t but were places that Anna and her friends would probably have seen at some point during her stay in the city. =)

Everything in bold italics is a direct quote from Anna and the French Kiss (my review).

AnnaARC visits Sacre Coure #gailandthefrenchtrip #annaandthefrenchtrip #paris #france #bookstagram

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

First up was Sacre Coure Cathedral which sits up high on a hill and overlooks the city. It was our first view of the Eiffel Tower and was right next to my stairs (Rue Foyatier) and there was a pretty carousel at the bottom. After visiting Sacre Coure we stopped for some crepes for lunch.

AnnaARC stops for some crepes #annaandthefrenchtrip #paris #france #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

“The sidewalks are crowded with students and tourists, and they’re lined with identical benches and ornate lampposts, busy trees ringed in metal grates, Gothic cathedrals and tiny creperies, postcard racks, and curlicue wrought iron balconies.”

This is such an apt description of Paris and the street where we found these crepes. Although unlike Anna I did not eat the nutella and banana crepe as I do not like nutella. Following lunch we took another queue from Anna and the gang and went to the Père Lachaise Cemetery

“The five of us – Mer, Rashmi, Josh, St. Clair, and I – are traipsing through the Cimetiere du Père Lachaise, located on a hillside overlooking Paris. Its like a miniature city itself. Wide pathways act as roads through neighborhoods of elaborate tombs.”

Le Père Lachaise Cemetery #gailandthefrenchtrip #paris #cemetery #lepèrelachaise #france #iseedeadpeople

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

We saw several famous graves including this famous(?) crypt.

 

“Victor Noir. He was a journalist shot by Pierre Bonaparte,” St. Clair says, as if that explains anything. He pulls The Hat up off his eyes. “The statue on his grave is supposed to help…fertility”
“His wang is rubbed shiny,” Josh elaborates. “For luck.”

 

We also stumbled on this crypt which made AnnaARC sad for obvious reasons.

 

And no trip to Paris would be complete without a stop for some macaroons!

 

 

 

“The art museum is called the Louvre and it’s shaped like a pyramid and the Mona Lisa lives there along with that statue of the woman missing her arms.”

 

 

Venus de Milo #gailandthefrenchtrip #paris #louvre #france #venusdemilo

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

We turn a corner and – there it is – the River Seine. The lights of the city bob in the ripples of the water. I suck in my breath. It’s gorgeous. Couples stroll along the riverbank, and booksellers have lined up dirty cardboard boxes of paperback books and old magazines for browsing. 

And then, as we’re turning our attention back toward the river, I see it.

Notre-Dame.

AnnaARC at #notredamn #annaandthefrenchtrip #paris #france #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

The building is like a great ship steaming downriver. Massive. Monstrous. Majestic. It’s lit in a way that absurdly reminds me of Disney World, but its so much more magical than anything Walt could have dreamed up.

 

La Seine #gailandthefrenchtrip #paris #france #seine

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

We have to cross a bridge to get to it. I hadn’t realized it was built on an island. St. Clair tells me we’re walking to the Ile de la Cite, the Island of the City, and its the oldest district in all of Paris. The Seine twinkles below us, deep and green and a long boat strung with lights glides under the bridge. I peer over the edge. 

I glance back and find St. Clair toddling on the road, several feet away from the edge of the bridge. For a moment, I’m confused. Then it hits me. “What? You aren’t afraid of heights?”

St. Clair keeps his eyes forward, on the illuminated figure of Notre Dame. “I just can’t fathom why anyone would stand on a ledge when there’s a respectable amount of walking space right next to it.”

 

Notre Damn at night #nofilter #gailandthefrenchtrip #notredamn

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

We have a perfect view of the entrance – hundreds and hundreds of tiny figures carved into three colossal archways. The statues look like stone dolls, each one separate and individualized. “They’re incredible,” I whisper.

“No there. Here.” He points to my feet.

 

 

I look down, and I’m surprised to find myself standing in the middle of a small stone circle. In the center, directly between my feet, its a coppery-bronze octagon with a star. Words are engraved around it: POINT ZERO DES ROUTES DE FRANCE.

“Mademoiselle Oliphant. It translates to ‘Point zero of the roads of France.’ In other words, it’s the point from which all other distances in France are measured.” St. Clair clears his throat. “It’s the beginning of everything.”

I look back up. He’s smiling. 

“Welcome to Paris, Anna. I’m glad you’ve come.”

After my friend and I visited Notre-Damn we took the reverse route of Anna and Etienne and walked by the Sorbonne:

The Sorbonne #gailandthefrenchtrip #paris #france

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

And the Middle Ages Museum as seen below:

 

Middle Ages Museum courtyard #paris #france #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

We pass another enormous structure, this one like the ruins of a medieval castle. “God, there’s history everywhere,” I say. “What is this place? Can we go in?”

 

We also went to the Pantheon – the dome was hidden by construction stuffs so cut most of that out of my photos. =)

AnnaARC visits the Pantheon #annaandthefrenchtrip #paris #france #gailandthefrenchtrip #pantheon

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

…but ahead of me the Pantheon shimmers. Its massive dome and impressive columns rise up to crown the top of the neighborhood. 

St Clair glances at me from the corner of his eyes and smiles. “A pantheon means its a place for tombs – of famous people, people important to the nation.”

“Is that all?” I’m sort of disappointed. It looks like it should’ve at least crowned a few kings or something.

He raises an eyebrow.

“I mean, there are tombs and monuments everywhere here. What’s different about this one?” We climb the steps, and the full height of the approaching columns is overwhelming. I’ve never been this close. 

“Who’s buried here?” 

“Er. Rousseau, Marie Curie, Louis Braille, Victor Hugo -“

“The Hunchback of Notre-Dame guy?”

“The very one. Voltaire. Dumas. Zola.”

AnnaARC visits Voltaire #annaandthefrenchtrip #pantheon #france #voltaire #pantheon #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

To get to the crypts you have to walk through the large upper level filled with columns and the dome but alas Foucault’s pendulum was down for some sort of repair.

 

In the Pantheon #gailandthefrenchtrip #paris #france

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

Then you get to the stairs….which are described as such [St. Clair’s] mood changes the moment the stairs come into view. The spiral staircase down to the crypt is steep and narrow. My irritation is replaced by worry when I see terror in his eyes. I’d forgotten about his fear of heights.

Stairs! (Really you can't be surprised by this) #gailandthefrenchtrip #paris #france #pantheon #stairs

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

When my friend Michelle saw the stairs to the crypt she laughed and said St Claire was afraid of these? They aren’t that steep? Michelle had just read Anna and the French Kiss (AnnaARC to be exact) and so it was all fresh in her mind. Later on I looked up the passage and laughed as well because there weren’t very many stairs and they really weren’t steep at all. The stairs in the Arch de Triumph were far steeper. It should also be noted that the stone wall was very smooth and not rough as described.

Behind the Pantheon is this building…

AnnaARC at Saint Etienne du Mont #annaandthefrenchtrip #paris #france #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

We’re standing in front of an absolute beast of a cathedral. Four thick columns hold up a Gothic facade of imposing statues and rose windows and intricate carvings. A skinny bell tower stretches all the way into the inky blackness of the night sky. “What is it?” I whisper. “Is it famous? Should I know it?”

“Its my church.”

“No.” He nods to a stone placard, indicating I read it. 

“Saint Etienne du Mont. Hey! Saint Etienne.”

And no trip to the Latin Quarter with AnnaARC…where the Middle Ages Museum, the Pantheon and Saint Etienne du Mont is…is complete without a stop by this place:

 

 

And then the darkness gives way to white neon. An Art Deco font, burning into the night, announces arrival at the CINEMA LE CHAMPO. The letters dwarf me. Cinema. Has there ever been a more beautiful word? 

 

AnnaARC at Shakespeare & Co #annaandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

It starts drizzling, so we pop into a bookshop across from Notre-Dame. The yellow-and-green sign reads SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY.

While there AnnaARC did something scandalous and shocking and her mother may not approve but I believe that Andi didn’t mind one bit when she saw.

Here are some other things that AnnaARC and I did while in Paris. We visited the Eiffel Tower

AnnaARC at the Eiffel Tower #annaandthefrenchtrip #eiffeltower #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

Went to see the Arch de Triumph

AnnaARC at the Arc de Triomphe #annaandthefrenchtrip #arcdetriomphe #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

AnnaARC under the Arc de Triomphe #annaandthefrenchtrip #arcdetriomphe #fire #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

Where we climbed the almost 300 stairs to the top to check out the views

 

 

We went to Versailles and wandered the gardens and saw the hall of mirrors

 

AnnaARC tours the #versailles gardens #annaandthefrenchtrip #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

Walked bridges over the Seine and saw lots and lots of locks

 

Finally paused with all the walking to take a picture of the cool metro station signs

 

AnnaARC heads down the Metro #annaandthefrenchtrip #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

 

Went to the Chateau de Vincennes which is your typical medieval castle and was just an amazing find that Michelle stumbled upon in the guidebook.

AnnaARC visits a castle! #annaandthefrenchtrip #vincennes #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

We also took the train to just outside the city and visited Disney Paris

 

AnnaARC goes to Disneyland Paris #annaandthefrenchtrip #DisneyParis #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

Which was all decorated for Halloween

 

Happy Halloween @andiabcs from AnnaARC #annaandthefrenchtrip #DisneyParis #gailandthefrenchtrip

A photo posted by Irish (@irisheyz77) on

 

And no AnnaARC tour of Paris would be complete without a stop here, to this fountain:

 

First Kiss

 

“What are we doing?” His voice strained.

He’s so beautiful, so perfect. I’m dizzy. My heart pounds, my pulse races. I tilt my face toward his, and he answers with an identical slow tilt toward mine. He closes his eyes. Our lips brush lightly. 

“If you ask me to kiss you, I will,” he says. 

His fingers stroke the inside of my wrists, and I burst into flames.

“Kiss me,” I say. 

He does. 

 

So there is it…AnnaARC’s tour of Paris, if you want to see more of my Paris photos just head over to Instagram and search the hashtag #gailandthefrenchtrip. Now that you’ve made it to the bottom of this post you deserve a reward! Which brings us to the contest portion of the hour.

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In the above photo you will see all that you can win…there are two tote bags, one from Shakespeare and Company in Paris and the other is the Anna, Lola, and Isla tote that you may have seen given out as promo for the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After (my review). Along with the totes are buttons from the series (see photo below), a bookmark from Paris – this is from the Middle Ages Museum and features a unicorn from one of their unicorn tapestries, and finally there is a book of love poems by Pablo Neruda which I bought in Shakespeare and Company.

Buttons

Neruda Love Poems

He holds up a collection of poetry. Pablo Neruda. “Have you read this?”

I shake my head.

“Good. Because I bought it for you.”

“What?”

“It’s on our syllabus for next semester in English. You’d need to buy it anyway. Open it up,” he says. 

Confused, I do. There’s a stamp on the front page. SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY, Kilometer Zero Paris. 

 

To enter you must be in the US (so international folks, its just too expensive to ship overseas) and use the rafflecopter below!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

 

irishdarkblue

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Guest Post: Cora Carmack, Inspire Setting (featuring Wilder Bell)

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Post, Travel Log1 Comment

Guest Post: Cora Carmack, Inspire Setting (featuring Wilder Bell)

INSPIRE_2400

 

About Inspire

Kalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.

Cora Carmack and Wilder Bell talk about the setting of Inspire

Hi Guys! Cora Here! When I sat down to write Inspire, I did a lot of thinking about where this story should take place. Greece felt appropriate, but too obvious. I considered other major cities like New York, London, or Paris, but I feel like those cities (New York especially) get a lot of love in the Urban Fantasy genre. Mostly because it’s more believable that a city that large would have some kind of crazy, cool supernatural connection. Those cities are also known as hubs for artists, which makes sense for a book about a muse. But those choices just felt too obvious to me. But since I was trying to squeeze this book between my other contracted books, I didn’t have time for a lot of research (be it electronic or a trip) to do justice to some other city.

So, finally, I turned to Austin. I grew up in Texas. I live part of the year just outside Austin and part of the year in New York. But it felt almost like cheating to place a story so close to home (especially when I already have the Rusk University series in which Texas is featured prominently). But the more I brainstormed, the more it didn’t make sense to set this book anywhere else. Because simply put… Austin is inspired. It’s this odd mix of small town and big city. It’s eclectic and strange and a haven not just for actors and musicians, but artists of all kinds. The weirder the better. Austin is a place where everybody fits. Including an immortal, mythical figure like Kalliope. So, I decided to set the book in Austin and never looked back. And now I’ll let my favorite book boyfriend, Wilder (a native Austinite), tell you what he loves about the city.

Wilder Bell’s Five Things to love about Austin:

1. The Whole Thing.

Austin

 

That might seem kind of obvious, but really it’s the big picture of Austin that makes it so fantastic. It’s the capitol of Texas, so it has that big city vibe. But there’s also a lot of country in this city. With a lake running right through downtown and incredible green spaces inside the city limits, it’s absolutely the best of both worlds.

Lady Bird Lake

You can hang out in Zilker Park or go kayaking on Lady Bird Lake or take a dip in the natural Barton Springs pool (pictured above), and then hit downtown for great food and awesome nightlife.

2. Speaking of Downtown, that’s definitely something you have to experience. There’s the infamous Sixth Street (Dirty Sixth, as some call it).

 SXSW on 6th Street

Roads are blocked off on the weekends so that partiers can walk through the streets while they visit various bars and music venues. You’re likely to catch sight of the Austin Police Department’s special Mounted Patrol as they trot by on horseback in case anything gets out of hand. Beyond sixth though, there are fabulous acclaimed restaurants downtown and hole-in-the-wall, unique places with food so good you’ll be tempted to eat twice. You can drop by Congress Bridge around sundown to see the city’s huge bat population take off into the night sky, then keep heading south for the So-Co district. There you’ll find everything from cool vintage shops to food trucks to art galleries and music venues.

Austin Frog

(This frog is one of my favorite things about Austin….and just one of my favorite things, period. I’m doing well, frog, thank you for asking.)

3. The people of Austin are definitely one of the city’s highlights.

They’re quirky and odd and compassionate. Some are famous. Some are infamous. We’re the city that can claim everyone from Sandra Bullock to Matthew McConaghey to Willie Nelson.

Matthew McConaghey

(Alright! Alright! Alright!)

You’ve got Leslie Cochran, the homeless man beloved by the city who was an activist, a cross dresser, and mayoral candidate (he came in second). When Leslie passed away in 2012, the city mourned and hundreds showed up for a funeral for the man without a home.

Leslie Cochran

R.I.P, Leslie.

Austin is home to major Tech corporations and artists and politicians. It’s home to conservatives and liberals. And despite the tremendous diversity of the city, it’s a place that everyone can comfortably call home thanks to the live and let live attitude that’s the unspoken law of the land. And as they say, Keep Austin Weird.

 keep austin weird

4. The arts. You might know Austin for its giant music and film festivals. Austin City Limits. South by Southwest.

sxsw

It is the Live Music capital of the world. Those festivals without a doubt bring some incredible creative personalities to Austin, but there are just as many amazing things going on year round. Incredible concerts (both tours and local bands). Hell, you’re likely to hear some great music from some random person busking on a corner downtown. You can go see a play. Indie film screenings. Check out some art (both in galleries and just public art around town). Like the “You’re my butter half” mural.

“You’re my butter half” mural

Or that statue of Willie Nelson. (I mentioned Austin is weird, right?)

 Willie Nelson Statue

5. The Food. Here’s what you need to know: Breakfast Tacos. Barbecue. Queso.

Hit up Torchy’s Tacos in the morning.

Torchy’s Tacos

Wait in line for a few hours to grab lunch at Franklin’s Barbecue (no, seriously… hours. It really is that good. Sometimes they have to put the “sold out” sign up before the restaurant is even open for business because the line is already so long that they’re pretty much guaranteed to run out of food).

Franklin’s Barbecue

Maybe catch a movie at night and order dinner right there in front of the big screen at Alamo Drafthouse. And then hit Kerbey Lane after hours for queso. All the queso.

There’s a lot more to love about Austin. Like the bluebonnets. UT sports. Chicken shit bingo. But these are my favorites. You know… in case you want to visit.

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 Contest

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

December 15th

Smart & Savvy with Stephanie – Review & Character Interview

Desert Divas Book Addiction – Review

Book Angel Booktopia – Review

Tales of the ravenous reader – Review

In Between The Pages – Review

The Book Cellar – Guest Post

 

December 16th

Between Order and Randomness – Excerpt

Lost in Lit – Review & Character Interview-Kallie and Wilder

The BookWhisperer – Review

NC 2 DC – Review

The Cover Contessa – Review

Movies, Shows & Books – Review

 

December 17th

Typical Distractions – Review

K-Books – Review

Book Boyfriend Reviews – Review

Britt’s Book and Life Blog – Review

The Boyfriend Bookmark – Review

Romance Addict Book Blog – Dreamcast

 

December 18th

Author Groupies – Review

Booklovers For Life – Review

Bloggers[Heart]Books – Excerpt

Snuggling on the Sofa – Review

Mary Had a Little Book Blog – Review

Ficwishes – Review

 

December 19th

Red Hot + Blue Reads – Review

Worn Down Glories – Excerpt

Jen in Bookland – Review

Vi3tbabe – Review

Ticket to Anywhere – Guest Post

 

December 20th

Four Chicks Flipping Pages Review & Playlist

A Life Bound By Books – Review

Watcha Reading – Character Interview-Lennox

Keep it Fictional – Review

 

December 21st

Literati Literature Lovers – Review

The Shadow Realm – Review

Nose Stuck in a Book – Author Interview

StuckInBooks – Review

 

December 22nd

Anna’s Book Blog – Excerpt

Lovin’ Los Libros – Review

Spare Time Book blog – Review

shelf life – Review

Novel Grounds da – Review

Mean Girls Luv Books – Review

 

December 23rd

Stuck In YA Books – Review & Guest Post

LuLo Fangirl – Review

Give Me Books – Review

The Irish Banana Review – Review

Step Into Fiction – Review

Krista’s Dust Jacket – Review

 

December 24th

Grown Up Book Reviews / Mundie Moms – Review & Author Interview

The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club – Review

Up All Night Book Addict – Review

Wendi Galbreath – Review

Behind Closed Covers – Review

Cocktails and Books – Review

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irishdarkblue
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Guest Post: Setting of This Summer by Katlyn Duncan

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Post, Travel Log0 Comments

Guest Post: Setting of This Summer by Katlyn Duncan

THIS SUMMER_Cover

 

 

About THIS SUMMER

Release date: July 9, 2014
Publisher: Carina UK
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
ISBN: 9781472096449

Before college, before responsibilities, Hadley Beauman and best friend Lily are determined to have a summer to remember. There will be all the usual dramas – ex-boyfriends who don’t seem to know what ‘ex’ means, pesky younger brothers with unrequited crushes, but what Hadley didn’t anticipate was the out-of-the-blue return of the seriously hot boy-next-door, Will Carson. The boy who broke her heart when he skipped town two years ago.

Will may have shot up a foot and filled out (oh yes), but inside he carries the weight of guilt – for leaving, for coming back… Now he’s just passing through to tie up loose ends but it’s clear the old chemistry still crackles between him and Hadley. Trouble is, it’s built on two years of lies…

This summer might just be the best time of their lives, but is Hadley ready for everything to change – again?

The Guest Post

Great topic! I think setting is very important piece of a great novel and I’d love to discuss mine!

This Summer is mostly set in a small town. As this is a loose version of my summers working for my local Parks Department, I brought in elements of that setting to build up the environment of the book. I wanted this setting because I knew it very well and that’s just where I saw my characters living. I like writing about small towns since I know mine very well. There is a sense of everyone knows each others business which fuels the urgency for Hadley to want to move on with her life. Plus it was fun to have the main characters live so close to everything, I really enjoyed exploring their environment in each scene.

The actual camp was fun to build. Pieces of it are from what I remember about those summers working. With so much of the setting in my mind already, it was an interesting experience to just throw my characters in there and see what they did.

There is also small window of time that the characters spend at an overnight camp and that was really fun for me to imagine. I’d never been to one and so it was exciting to build up my own version!

 

Find it at

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BARNES & NOBLE UK | iTUNES | KOBO | MILLS & BOON | GOODREADS

About Katlyn Duncan

Katlyn_Duncan

Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.

Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.

WEBSITE | BLOG | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR | YOUTUBE | GOODREADS

The THIS SUMMER Trailer

LINK: http://youtu.be/fJoqD3_bn_w

The Giveaway

The author is offering up for giveaway a $50 Amazon US or UK gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Tour Schedule

The schedule can be found at: http://www.rockstarbooktours.com/2014/07/tour-schedule-this-summer-by-katlyn.html

Week One
July 14th – Fire and Ice – Guest Post
July 14th – Spiced Latte Reads – Review
July 15th – Ramblings From This Chick – Review
July 15th – Contessa – Interview
July 16th – Book Briefs – Review<
July 16th – Swoony Boys Podcast – Interview
July 17th – Falling for YA – Guest Post
July 17th – Ginger-Read Reviews – Review
July 18th – A Book and a Latte
July 18th – Mary Had a Little Book Blog – Review

Week Two
July 21st – Seeing Night Reviews – Review
July 21st – Ticket to Anywhere – Guest Post
July 21st – A Bottomless Book Bag – Review
July 22nd – Library of a Book Witch – Review
July 22nd – Simplistic Reviews – Guest Post
July 23rd – Teen Readers’ Diary – Interview
July 23rd – Rampant Readers – Review<
July 24th – Once Upon a Twilight – Review
July 24th – Fiction Dreams – Interview
July 25th – Burning Impossibly Bright – Guest Post
July 25th – Fiktshun – Guest Post + Review

irishdarkblue

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Guest Post: Writing off the Beaten Path: Fictionalizing Travel Experiences – Diana Renn

Posted by Irish in Guest Post, Misc, Travel Log0 Comments

 LatitudeZero_JK_1P.inddGreetings and Salutations Internet!

Today I have the fabulous Diana Renn on the blog talking about the setting of her new book Latitude Zero which takes place in Ecuador and how she took a real place and adapted it to fiction.

Writing off the Beaten Path: Fictionalizing Travel Experiences

Confession: I’m a travel guide junkie.

Any time I’m in a bookstore, I head for the travel section, even if I only have time to pass by. It’s like a gravitational pull. Of course, now that I’m a parent, the travel books I actually pull off the shelf these days tend to have titles like Kiddie Pools Around the World, or 1,000 Not Entirely Mind-Numbing Things to Do With a Bored Kid on a Road Trip. But still my eye wanders to the books organized by region. I remember places I went to when I felt freer. I lament my trips not taken and dream of trips to come.

I’m an equal fan of advice-filled guides and more interpretative travel essays. I’ll flip to random pages and inhale the words and photos. I might even come away with an odd fact to hang onto, like how to hail a cab in Bolivia, or the best islands to visit in Greece. (Are there kiddie pools in Greece, I wonder?)

My husband is a guidebook-junkie too. He’ll actually buy guidebooks for places we’ve considered going, even though all that information is readily available online. We have several books about China and Norway, for example, though we haven’t quite made it to either country. When we traveled through Japan for our honeymoon, we were armed with four – four – thick guidebooks, which we regularly thumbed through and cross-referenced while shooting through the landscape on the shinkansen.

Probably because I’m such a fan of travel writing, my novels draw on my previous travels, evenecuador though I never went to these places with the intention of writing these novels; the novels emerged months, even years later. Tokyo Heist is largely set in Japan, where my husband and I traveled for nearly three weeks. Latitude Zero is half set in Ecuador, where I used to live and work, and where I did quite a bit of traveling. And Blue Voyage (coming in 2015) is set entirely in Turkey, where I had the trip of a lifetime a few years ago.

The excitement of writing about places I’ve traveled to comes in reliving those travel experiences. I love poring through the journals I kept, looking back at worn receipts and ticket stubs that rain out of the travel guides I lugged around. My novels are love letters to these places, as I try to recapture the excitement I felt there.

There is an inherent risk in this endeavor, though. I have to remind myself that I’m writing novels, not Frommer’s guides. And my characters need not share my itineraries—in fact, they really should not. I can scour my journals and guidebook notes for key details to bring the setting to life. The taste and texture of higos con queso, figs with cheese, that my host mother made me in Ecuador. Or what it felt like to inhale exhaust fumes and folk music while hanging on a pole for dear life on a local bus rattling down Avenida de Amazonas in a crowded neighborhood in Quito. Or the language store vendors used in Istanbul street markets to urge me to buy things I didn’t need. Or the lace doilies on the head rests in Japanese taxis. Any details I can record on the road are potentially useful, and these are the impressionistic details that I generally won’t find in guidebooks. I pounce on them, gratefully, when I need them in fiction.

La Basilica del Voto Nacional, Quito, Ecuador

But it’s taken me numerous discarded drafts to learn that novels are different kinds of journeys. Plot lines aren’t train lines. The trajectory of a character’s arc does not map neatly to the reality of a person’s day-by-day itinerary.

When I look at my Turkey journal, for example, there are peaks and valleys, but not one continuous arc toward a climactic scene and a quick denouement. There are long stretches of boredom and waiting when connections are missed. Occasional fatigued squabbles with my husband; an ice cream cone flung out a car window at high speed. Moments of wonder at a sunset gilding a river, or a baby owl flapping out of an alcove in a cave hotel. Awe at a church façade or a tower. But my husband and I didn’t embark on that journey with an eye toward a theme, or a plot quest, or our character growth; we had two weeks off and wanted to see Turkey.

There’s also the risk of wanting to include every amazing sight and experience in a novel, which can force the plot into blind alleys and dead ends and even a road to nowhere. When I was drafting Tokyo Heist, I spent months agonizing over how to get Violet to this amazing cluster of thatch-roof houses in the mountains where silkworms were farmed long ago. This effort resulted in a forty-page detour and flagging pace and threatened to derail the whole book. I eventually ditched the section, the whole venue. There was no need to have Violet go there just because I loved that place; everything she needed to accomplish, narratively, she could do in Tokyo and Kyoto. And believe me, we didn’t need a five page digression on the history of silkworm farms.  In another scene, I even routed her to another area of Japan where I’d never been in real life because that made more sense for the story.

Roasted Cacao BeansSimilarly, in Latitude Zero, I couldn’t wait to write some jungle scenes. I wanted my heroine, Tessa, to eat cacao from a pod freshly hacked off a tree with a machete, as I had. I wanted her to hear the monkeys chatter and find a gorgeous blue butterfly. Then I wanted her to go to the Galapagos and swim with seals, because everyone should have that experience, right?

Tessa never makes it to the jungle. By the time the book takes her to Ecuador, she’s on a mission, and running for her life, and there’s no time for leisurely sightseeing. Everything she needs to accomplish can happen, and does happen, in the capital city of Quito, high in the Andes mountains. I’ll have to save the jungle, the cacao pods, the seals, for another book.

So if you love to travel and love to write fiction, by all means take good notes. Save all the little scraps from your voyage. You never know what will become the seed of a larger project. Review your annotated guidebooks and notes and journals and relive your trip. Then toss everything aside and go off the beaten path. Let your characters and your storyline guide you. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun, and you never know where you’ll end up.

irishdarkblue

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Guest Post: Ready for You by JL Berg

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt, Guest Post, Travel Log0 Comments

Guest Post: Ready for You by JL Berg

RFY Amazon GR SW

 

 

Title: Ready For You
Series: Ready #3
Author: JL Berg
Publication Date: May 26, 2014
Summary: A second chance at first love.

Eight years ago, Garrett Finnegan’s world shattered the day Mia vanished from his life. He’s been struggling to pick up the pieces ever since. Haunted by memories and ghosts of the past, he chooses a solitary existence rather than risk his heart again.

Mia Emerson has made one wrong decision after another but none worse than walking away from the boy who stole her heart so long ago. When her new life is turned upside down, she finds herself returning to her roots and the hometown she left behind. Maybe now she can find a way to heal from the devastating mistakes of her past.

When a chance encounter brings these former lovers together, passion reignites in a way neither is prepared for. Can Garrett move beyond his anger and find a way to forgive? Will Mia’s insecurities and fears cause her to once again flee the life she’s destined to live?

Garrett and Mia will soon discover that they must journey into the past to find their way home.

Ready for You – The Setting

When I was picking a setting for the Ready series, I decided to go with my home—Richmond, VA.  Many know I’m originally from California, but over the years I’ve adopted Virginia as my new home.  I love watching the seasons change and I do enjoy a hush puppy or two.

I do this sneaky thing in my books where I will have a character or characters go to a location.  It is a real location—it exists in Richmond, but I won’t name it.  I’ll describe it in detail but won’t actually say where they are

It’s fun.

Locals love guessing what these vague locations really are.  Over the course of the series, my sharp readers have figured out that Clare and Logan live in Hanover, a small little county outside of Richmond, and some even guessed Logan’s historic home is located in Ashland.  Correct!

The cemetery Declan and Leah walk through is indeed the Hollywood cemetery and Clare and Logan’s date to the theater was at the Carpenter Center. (which is now Center Stage)

Now, for Garrett and Mia.

They are younger than any of my previous characters.  I didn’t see them living in a quiet neighborhood or even an apartment building outside of town.

I put both of them in Carytown.  Carytown is young and vibrant; full of old homes and fun, quaint shops and restaurants.

Mia’s house is crucial to the storyline and serves as a backdrop for most of the story’s setting.  It is what brings Garrett and Mia together and ultimately keeps them coming back for more.  I mention the door on multiple occasions—Garrett finding himself at that damn door more times than he can count.  They even, ahem, do intimate things against that door.  It’s not an accident.  The house is significant and I wanted to make sure readers knew just how important it was.

Creating the setting for the Ready series has been fun.  I enjoyed bringing my adopted home into my writing and it allowed me as a new writer to create in an environment I was comfortable in, which only helped me grow and expand my craft.

 

Links:

Goodreads //  Amazon // B&N // iTunes // Kobo

Excerpt

 

With our bags loaded, we started to make our way back to the car, weaving through the crowd and enjoying the sounds of people talking and soft music playing. I smiled when I heard a child laughing.  I turned to see a child being thrown over his father’s shoulder.

“Garrett! Stop it! I’m too old to be carried!” The child laughed.

“You’re never too old to be tackled, Connor! We’ve got to get you ready for football!”

That voice—even after eight years, I would recognize it anywhere. My stomach fell to the concrete, and my feet cemented to the ground. I was frozen, completely frozen. Everything slowed. The street noise melted away, and each and every shopper disappeared until I saw him. He had the boy slung over his shoulder. They were both laughing and breathless from their horseplay. He looked older, but it was still him. He still had the same jet-black hair, emerald eyes, and dazzling smile. A beautiful blonde woman was smiling at the two of them as they joked around.

My heart finally caught up to my brain, and it felt like a jackhammer was beating hard and fast in my chest. My hands shook, and my knees suddenly felt weak and wobbly. I had no idea how much time had passed since I saw him.

Minutes? Hours? 

I didn’t know, but it couldn’t have been long since Liv was just now noticing my crazy behavior.

“Amelia, are you okay? You look like you just saw a ghost,” she said.

When I didn’t respond, she must have glanced up because I heard her gasp. She’d seen him, too.

“I-I need to get out of here—now,” I gritted through my teeth.

“Are you sure?”

I just nodded and started to turn. I couldn’t face him. He probably hated me.

He had a kid. That hurt. My hand went to my chest, trying to rub out the pain settling there. He had a child. That meant the blonde standing next to him was probably his wife. Garrett was married. It had been eight years. Of course he would be married. I didn’t know why I was surprised, but he wasn’t supposed to be here. He had moved away. He was supposed to stay away. I couldn’t be here if he was still here. I couldn’t breathe if he was still here.

“Come on, sweetheart, let’s get to the car,” Liv said gently, grabbing my arm and guiding me toward the car.

I just gave a brief nod as I let her lead me.

We hadn’t made it three steps before I heard the words that made my heart come to a screeching halt.

“Mia? Mia, is that you?”

 

Author Bio

J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she’s not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads

 

Contest

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Schedule:


May 27

http://tammyandkimreviews.blogspot.com/ [Review]

May 28
May 29
May 30
May 31
June 1
June 2
June 3
June 4
June 5
June 6
June 7
June 8
June 9
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guest Post: Jenny Morris Talks about Road to Somewhere’s Setting

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Post, Travel Log2 Comments

Guest Post: Jenny Morris Talks about Road to Somewhere’s Setting

Guest Post: Jenny Morris Talks about Road to Somewhere’s Setting
New! From Bloomsbury Spark, a sunny heartwarming story of discovery and sisterhood. 
A road trip. A singing competition. And super-hot cowboys. 
What could be better? 
For Charlie, a post-high school road trip isn't just a vacation, it's life changing. While her parents think she's helping a friend move, a chance at fame is the real reason to grab her best friends and drive to L.A. But when her super annoying, uber-responsible, younger sister, Lucy, has to tag along, it isn't quite the summer of fun she imagined. 
Add in a detour to her grandparents' ranch in Texas, and between mucking the stalls, down-home cookin’, and drool worthy ranch hands, this could just turn into the best, and most complicated, summer of their lives.

Greetings and Salutations Internet!

Today I am happy to be a part of the Road to Summer blog tour hosted by Itching for Books. Road to Summer is written by Jenny Morris and Kelley Lynn and was released by Bloomsbury Spark on 11 March 2014. I’m happy to have Jenny here at Ticket to Anywhere to talk about the setting of Road to Summer which deals with one of my favorite topics in books, a road trip! So without further ado here is Jenny:

 

*****************

 

Thank you, Gail, for having me on your blog today! And for participating in our blog tour.

Gail wanted me to talk about the setting of Road to Somewhere. This is such a perfect topic for this book, since the sisters embark on a road trip.

When Kelley Lynn and I sat down to write we originally planned for them to drive along Route 66. But then I think I threw out a random comment about always wanting a cowboy as a love interest, and that’s when we thought of having them stop in Sherman, Texas. Why Sherman? Well, my sister lives there. J Neither Kelley or I have ever visited Sherman, but I grew up in Arkansas and have been through Texas many times. So we pulled from that knowledge.

Then we needed a starting point and Chicago seemed like a good choice, because Kelley lives close to there. They really aren’t in the Chicago area that much, but that setting plays a big part in who Charlie and Lucy are. I’ve lived in five states and every place I’ve lived has its own quirks. Like do you say pop or soda? Or if you’re in Texas then everything’s a coke even if it’s actually made by Pepsi. J Chicago is always one of those places I’d love to visit. And hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to meet Kelley there and we can explore all the places Charlie and Lucy love to go.

 

(Source: http://www.city-data.com/picfilesc/picc36333.php)

 

Last we had to pick an ending location for our trip and LA seemed the perfect choice since Charlie and her friends are in a singing competition. Plus, both Kelley and I have been there before. They really aren’t in LA very long either but a ton of important things transpires during their stay. One of our favorite scenes happens at the beach near the Santa Monica Pier. It’s was really cool because while they’re in Texas they go the county fair and then in LA the pier has rides too, but the contrast between the two places was nice to see.

 

(source: http://www.hotels.com/ho153464/hotel-casa-del-mar-santa-monica-united-states/)

 

Sherman is where a huge chunk of the book takes place. The ranch and the people that fill it are the heart of the book.

 

(Source: http://www.city-data.com/album/album-Sherman-Texas.html)

 

My mom grew up on a ranch in Nebraska, and my dad grew up on a farm in Louisiana. Life is different in that type of environment. There’s lots of hard work to be done, but during the summer there’s also this wonderful lazy feeling, too. Sipping tea on the porch swing while listening to the bug zapper do its job. J Or going for a late night dip in the pond. In Chicago Charlie feels pinned in, like she has no choices. The walls of the high society she grew up in fall away and she’s able to just be Charlie Bob, the girl who loves horses and is good at riding. We kind of made Texas the girl’s oasis.

 

(Source: http://www.city-data.com/album/album-Sherman-Texas.html)

 

I love when a book pulls me into the character’s world and makes me feel like I went on a vacation. I hope with Road to Somewhere we were able to make you feel that way.

Thank you again for having me on your blog and for participating in the tour. It was a ton of fun to visit all the places that Charlie and Lucy did on their summer road trip.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

kelleylynnKelley Lynn was born and raised a Midwestern girl. She’s not afraid to sweat and fills her free time with softball, soccer and volleyball. (Though you probably don’t want her on your volleyball team.) She occasionally makes guest appearances as a female vocalist for area bands. Music plays a large role in her writing process as well as the characters and plot lines within her stories.

Jenny S. Morris is a YA author who loves all things geek, may have a Kdrama addiction, jennysmorrisand prefers the rainy NW to any place she’s ever lived. Road to Somewhere is her debut novel.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Guest Post: The Setting of If Only by A.J. Pine

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Guest Post, Travel Log0 Comments

Guest Post: The Setting of If Only by A.J. Pine

Guest Post: The Setting of If Only by A.J. Pine

Sometimes it takes crossing an ocean to figure out where you belong.

It's been two years since twenty-year-old Jordan had a boyfriend—which means it's been forever since she, well, you know. But now she’s off to spend her junior year in Aberdeen, Scotland, the perfect place to stop waiting for Mr. Right and just enjoy Mr. Right Now.

Sexy, sweet (and possible player) Griffin may be her perfect, no-strings-attached match. He’s fun, gorgeous, and makes her laugh. So why can’t she stop thinking about Noah who, minutes after being trapped together outside the train’s loo, kisses Jordan like she’s never been kissed before? Never mind his impossible blue eyes, his weathered, annotated copy of The Great Gatsby (total English-major porn)…oh, and his girlfriend.

Jordan knows everything this year has an expiration date. Aberdeen is supposed to be about fun rather than waiting for life to happen. But E. M. Forster, Shakespeare, and mistletoe on Valentine’s Day make her reconsider what love is and how far she’s willing to go for the right guy.

Greetings and Salutations Internet!

Today I am happy to host A.J. Pine who is the author of If Only which is officially available where ebooks are sold today from Entangled Publishing. As always, when I have an author visiting I like to pick their brain on the setting of their novel and A.J. Pine has the added bonus of having her story set in Scotland! I haven’t been to Scotland yet but a friend of mine was just there and I’ve been living through her Facebook photos…one day…one day I will get there. But for now I can travel through friends and through A.J. Pine talking about it.

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Hi Gail! Thanks so much for having me on Ticket to Anywhere! What a great place to kick off IF ONLY’s release because I get to talk about Scotland!

I knew the setting of this book long before I had the story cemented. When I first fell in love with NA and knew I wanted to write it, I thought about my New Adult years, and what stood out to me the most was my junior year of college when I studied abroad in…you guessed it…Aberdeen, Scotland. At that point in my life, spending a year away from home in a foreign country was the scariest thing I’d ever done. And this was the nineties, so no cell phones to keep in constant touch with all my friends back home. I had to walk to and from campus to the computer lab just to check in via email. The point—this meant a whole lot of me time and a whole lot of growing up for me to do. While I had an amazing time, I also learned a lot about myself and knew that a similar experience would provide a great physical and emotional journey for a main character of a New Adult book, and from there Jordan, Noah, Griffin, Elaina, and Duncan were born.

While I do have a good memory and photo albums from my trip, I still researched to make sure I had a good enough mental picture of Aberdeen in 2013 since I was sure things had changed since I’d been there. For example, there’s a student scavenger hunt/tour scene where Jordan and Noah trek all over campus together. One of their sites is the Sir Duncan Rice Library on the Aberdeen campus, a really unique piece of architecture. This library just opened in 2012, so it didn’t exist when I was there. In order to make Jordan and Noah’s tour authentic, I had to virtually tour the campus myself. Thank goodness for Aberdeen’s thorough campus maps on the website!

Jordan and Noah are both English majors, which is convenient because so was I. I definitely borrowed from my college experience for their classes, particularly the Shakespearean Comedy class. I took a similar class at Aberdeen and signed up for the class for a reason quite like the one that made Jordan sign up for hers. Let’s just say that seeing a certain crush’s name on a class roster is enough motivation to take any class, but Shakespearean Comedy was luckily right up my alley regardless of why I took the class.

The University of Aberdeen is real, but IF ONLY is definitely a fictionalized account of the place. But everything from the park students walked through from housing to campus to the medieval castle-like feel of the architecture of King’s College was invoked from my unearthed photo albums from the nineties. Oh! And there really is a tattoo parlor in London called Prick. I’ve never been there, but when I was researching the area of London Jordan was going to be in, I looked up local shops, and who could pass up giving a shout out to a place called Prick? If I ever make it back to London, I am so getting inked there!

Thanks again for having me and celebrating IF ONLY’s release!

 

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About A.J. Pine

AJ writes stories to break readers’ hearts, but don’t worry—she’ll mend those hearts with a IfOnlyPine4BW-150x150happily ever after…maybe. The first book she wrote was YA, but now she’s two-timing her first love Pine4BWwith NA. She’s always in the middle of reading two to three books, adores online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes), and she still loves vampires, whether it’s Eric Northman or the Salvatore brothers. When she’s not writing, AJ is sneaking off to her day job as a high school English teacher or hanging with her husband and kids in the Chicago burbs.

AJ’s debut NA novel, IF ONLY, releases with Entangled’s Embrace line on March 24!

Representation: Courtney Miller-Callihan at SJGA.

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads

Find the book: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble


Contest

Win an If Only Swag Pack -An “I love you from here to Scotland” print, Ahava pendent, A pack each of Much Ado about Nothing and A Room With a View confetti, Much Ado about Nothing travel mug and A Room With a View Blu-ray (a $25 Amazon gift card will be substituted if winner is outside the US)

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Tour Schedule:

 Week One:

3/24/2014- Auggie-Talk– Review

3/24/2014- Ticket to Anywhere– Guest Post

3/25/2014- Taking It One Book at a Time– Review

3/25/2014- Curling Up With A Good Book- Excerpt

3/26/2014- Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, and Romance– Review

3/26/2014- Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands– Guest Post

3/27/2014- Lovin’ Los Libros– Review

3/27/2014- FicWishes– Guest Post

3/28/2014- Reviews By Molly– Review

3/28/2014- YA Story Teller Interview

Week Two:

3/31/2014- Allodoxophobia: The Fear of Opinions– Review

3/31/2014- Bibliojunkies– Excerpt

4/1/2014- LeAnn’s Book Reviews– Review

4/1/2014- Step Into Fiction– Excerpt

4/2/2014- The Phantom Paragrapher– Review

4/2/2014- Michelle4Laughs: It’s in the Details– Excerpt

4/3/2014- Books and Swoons– Review

4/3/2014- Creating Serenity– Guest Post

4/4/2014- Kindle and Me– Review

4/4/2014- Burning Impossibly Bright– Guest Post

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