Category: Miscellaneous

My Twilight Trip to Forks, WA!

My Twilight Trip to Forks, WA!

Or, I Walked In The Footsteps Of Vampires (Or So They Say)

Last summer, I was in Washington and visited Forks. It was so much fun! I’ve been a fan of vampires for a long time, and I couldn’t wait to visit the setting for Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.

First, it’s very long drive from Seattle through some of the most beautiful, green forests I’ve ever seen.

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The coast outside Forks, WA. Near the beaches Bella and Jacob strolled in the books.

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Our first stop was the city’s visitor’s center (well worth the visit!).

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Bella’s truck!

From there, we used the city’s handy map and found the Swan House.

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Bella’s windows are on the 2nd floor.

Our third stop was Dr. Cullen’s office at the local hospital.

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Lunch break!

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Finally, my favorite spot–the Cullen residence complete with a note from Esme! I was in fan heaven. 🙂

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The Cullen House is a bed and breakfast.
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Esme’s letter to friends and fans.

If you’re a fan of vampires, too, I highly recommend a trip to Forks. It’s a bit out of the way, but it’s like walking through the books. It’s well worth the drive. And the town, which saw a huge tourism uptick during the height of Twilight hysteria, could use a boost now that most people have moved on to new fandoms.

I had so much fun!

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<3 Anna

I’m Going to Comic-Con 2016!

I’m Going to Comic-Con 2016!

Or, I Haven’t Stopped Smiling Since March

Comic-Con 2016

Comic Con logo

I’m so excited! It’s been a couple years since I last attended Comic-Con (the cast of Twilight was one of the panels, it was so long ago), and I’m silently screaming with glee at the chance to go back. I’ve been lucky enough to see all of my favorite casts in person (from Vampire Diaries to Teen Wolf) and I can’t wait to wade through the crowds and enjoy being a pop culture nerd for a weekend.

In preparation for my return trip, I put together a slide show of past cons.


Comic-Con 2010–The Lost Boys panel with Corey Feldman and cast.
Comic-Con 2011–The Vampire Diaries panel. I loved this fan’s tee.
Comic-Con 2011–The Breaking Dawn panel.  Julia Jones played werewolf, Leah.
Comic-Con 2011–The Breaking Dawn panel. Booboo Stewart played the werewolf, Seth.
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<3 Anna

Why I Needed A Break From Everything

Why I Needed A Break From Everything

Or, The Reason You Haven’t Heard From Me Lately

Hello my darlings,

It’s been a rough few months, but I needed to reach out and explain why I took the second half of 2015 off from both writing and social media.

I moved over the summer from North Carolina to southern California with my husband, daughter, dog, and tortoise. It’s been a difficult transition–making new friends, finding a place to call our own, starting school, and feeling like fish out of water.

In October I was blessed to start a full-time teaching job, but I went from working a couple days a week (8:00-3:00) to working five days a week (7:00-4:30). To make things worse, I took over in the middle of the year after a teacher quit. It’s been a stressful few months playing catch up.

Lastly and worst of all, my little brother passed away in December from complications after a brain aneurysm. It was so sudden and gut-wrenching, I spent weeks and weeks crying and walking around in a fog of shock.

To say I have been under a lot of stress the last eight months or so would be an understatement. I had bouts of creativity. I participated in Nation Novel Writing Month in November. I worked on several manuscripts, here and there, but I haven’t been mentally or physically strong enough to write seriously since last summer.

Now, though, I’m relieved to say I’m feeling much better and have started working hard on a new novel in my Red Plague series.

I hope you have all been well since we last connected online, and I look forward to reconnecting in the next few weeks.

Best wishes,


My brother Will and I.
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A Sad NaNoWriMo Update

A Sad NaNoWriMo Update

Or, The Week Everything Turned Upside Down

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On Monday afternoon I received one of the worst phone calls I’ve ever had. My 35-year-old brother, my only sibling, had suffered a brain aneurysm. After four days in a coma, he remains in ICU fighting for his life.

Obviously, finishing NaNo has taken a back seat to making phone calls, driving two hours to LA every other day, and sitting in terrible waiting rooms. I remain at the 40K mark, but I don’t think I’ll make 50K by the 30th, and that’s okay.

If you’re still in the race, good luck. I’m rooting for you.

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<3 Anna

NaNoWriMo Update

NaNoWriMo Update

Or, How I Found My Groove

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After a tough writing week, I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride. By tonight I’ll have between 24 and 25K words written, right on target. I know I can not only hit the 50K word goal by November 30, but I’m confident I have enough plot to finish. Believe me, there have been years when I reached the 20 or 30K word mark and thought, “I’m done. The story is finished. There’s nothing else to write.” But not this year. I have story to spare, which is a great feeling.

I’m writing a new Red Plague novel this month. It’s a YA zombie paranormal, and I’m loving writing it! I’m so excited to share it with you. Hopefully, it’ll be available for purchase in early 2016.

How is your writing journey going this week?

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<3 Anna

1st Week NaNoWriMo Update

1st Week NaNoWriMo Update

Or, How I Slacked Off A Lot

NaNoWriMo pic

This first week of NaNoWriMo was tough for me. I started a new job recently, and I’m still exhausted from that so I didn’t have a lot of time to write. I did force myself to get up every morning at 5 am (boo!) and write for a solid 30 minutes before I had to get ready for work. That way, at least my daily totals weren’t zero.

Saturday I had my best day yet. With a lot of downtime I was able to crank out about 4,000 words. I was so happy! …Until I realized even with that burst I’m still behind.

How are your NaNo journeys coming along?

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Enjoy this Free Red Plague Sneak Peek PDF full of excerpts and extras!

<3 Anna

It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again!

It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again!

Or, My Favorite Month Of The Year

NaNoWriMo pic

That high-pitched squeal you hear is me being super excited about November first rolling around!

November is my favorite month of the year because, thanks to the National Novel Writing Month, I get to obsess about writing for thirty straight days.

If you’ve ever considered writing a novel of your own, join me this month in all the fun. You’ll be asked to crank out 50,000 words in 30 days, but there are local write-ins all the time where you can meet other creative types in coffee houses and talk writing while sipping lattes.

If you register with NaNoWriMo, let me know. We’ll keep each other on the right track.

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Enjoy this Free Red Plague Sneak Peek PDF full of excerpts and extras!

<3 Anna

P.S. This year, I’m writing a YA paranormal in the same world as my Red Plague series about the 212R zombie virus and the people who struggle to survive it. 🙂

Moving Cross-Country Countdown (Moving Day)

Moving Cross-Country Countdown (Moving Day)

Or, I Have Resolved Myself To The Chaos To Come

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Well, here we go…

The truck is packed, the cable is off, and the mail is being held. We’re really doing this.

I think I’m finally ready to leave. Though it’s bittersweet, we’ve said good-bye to all our friends and favorite places (I had to have Bojangles one last time, and I’ll probably swing by Smithfield’s for lunch today), we are headed off on a new adventure in the Pacific Northwest.

Job search update: I haven’t heard back from the school I Skyped with last week, but I have another phone interview with a different school today at noon. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that I’m so physically and emotionally exhausted from preparing to move that I could care less about an interview today? I’ll give it my all, but my heart’s not in this one. My mind is just in too many places.

Today Jacksonville, NC is a balmy 83 degrees with 65% humidity, which means I look like I’ve just stepped out of the shower at all times of the day, but today in Tumwater, WA it’s 60 degrees with 70% humidity. I’m not sure that’s any better, but I’ll take it.

Next time you hear from me I’ll be on the road!

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<3 Anna

Moving Cross-Country Countdown (T – 3 Days)

Moving Cross-Country Countdown (T – 3 Days)

Or, I’m Starting to Lose My Mind

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We said good-bye to more friends Sunday. My daughter had a birthday party at an ice skating rink, and had to say good-bye to three of her best friends (and three of the most amazing young ladies ever). I only cried twice. No biggie.

Thank goodness for email, texting, and Skype. It’ll almost feel like they’re still in the same city.

On top of planning a big party last weekend, I’m now falling behind on absolutely everything else. I literally haven’t packed a thing, even though we leave in three days. Mostly because I’m spending a lot of time at end-of-year school activities and scrambling to finish a couple projects I don’t want to leave half done.

Tomorrow I have to stop by the dentist for a quick check-up, and then I’ll be trapped in an auto repair shop for a couple hours while my truck gets a new set of brakes. Luckily, I’ll have my Kindle with me.

I did hear a great idea today from my friend Laura. To help deal with boredom on long car rides, she recommends buying a present for every day of the trip, wrap each one, and don’t let my daughter open more than one a day. The best part is, each gift is something crafty and tactile that takes upwards of an hour to complete. Things like modeling clay, a yarn loom, or a design-your-own jewelry box.

I love that idea, though it will take time I don’t have to find fun kits, wrap them, and pack them into suitcases I haven’t even pulled out of the closet yet.

What do you think?

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<3 Anna

Moving Cross-Country Countdown (T – 7 Days)

Moving Cross-Country Countdown (T – 7 Days)

Or, My Adventures On Pirate Island–Ocracoke, NC

One of the things I wanted to do before we moved away from North Carolina, possibly never to return, is visit as many cool spots as we can. We recently went to the Wilmington Children’s Museum, Onslow Beach, and a couple other favorite hangouts.

My friend recommended going to Ocracoke Island before we leave. Actually, she said, “You have to go. You have to.” But we only had two weekends left, and one of them is my daughter’s big birthday extravaganza weekend, so I planned a trip to Ocracoke last minute.

You’re not going to believe me, but I really did research the island before we left. The only way to reach the island is a 20-mile ferry ride from Cedars Island. There, the only thing I absolutely wanted to see was the Blackbeard museum and store. Their website claimed the exhibit was open daily from 11am to 5pm (except Easter Sunday).

Also, though MapQuest claimed it was a 5 1/2 hour trip to Ocracoke, I didn’t believe it. I assumed it was a GPS glitch.

Sort of at the drop of a hat, I hustled my daughter into the truck early Sunday morning and we headed off to Cedars Island. I fully expected to be back home by 8pm, at the latest.

In a way, the drive up the North Carolina coast was one of the best parts of the whole trip. We saw so many different kinds of animals (a black snake, a black cat, crows–sort of a macabre pattern beginning). When I spotted the house below, though, I immediately pulled over to take pictures. What a sight!

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The two-story home is so overgrown it’s barely visible through the trees, vines, and grass.
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I love the way the shutters are hanging crookedly, like a haunted house’s should.

This was my first trip on a ferry, and I thought it was amazing! It took us, what with all the stopping to take pictures and ask for directions once, almost three hours to reach the ferry terminal. The departure schedules said we’d missed the early morning ferry, but there was a 10am ferry and a 1pm ferry. Having no idea what we were doing, we rolled up to the boat at ten minutes till ten.

We were instructed to wait in the overflow line. By a stroke of complete, dumb luck, we were waved on the ferry as the very last vehicle.

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Our red pickup was the last vehicle allowed onboard.

Honestly, I didn’t know we were in for a 2 1/2 hour boat ride until we were already at sea. I might have reconsidered the entire trip if I had all the information. I’d assumed a twenty mile trip would take about thirty minutes. How wrong I was!

Luckily, we brought snacks and electronics to help pass the time. Though we didn’t really need the iPad. This was my daughter’s first time on a ferry and she couldn’t control her excitement. We were at the front of the boat, at the back of the boat, upstairs, downstairs, and back again. Which was fine. It helped the time fly by.

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Me enjoying the beautiful weather and the salty air.

The spectacle below blew my mind. I’ve never seen the ocean when you literally couldn’t tell where the water ended and the sky began.

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There’s no horizon! It’s like a sci-fi backdrop.

Once I knew how long a trip this really was, and having no plans to stay overnight and miss school the next day, I knew how important it was going to be to procure a ticket for the return trip as soon as possible. I tried to reserve one on my phone on the ferry, but the internet wasn’t cooperating.

So, as soon as we disembarked, I dragged my daughter into the ferry office. According to the schedule, there was a ferry leaving for Cedars Island at 4pm and a final ferry at 9pm. I wanted to be on the 4pm ferry.

The 4pm ferry was already sold out.

With no other option, I secured passage on the 9pm ferry, and then we set out to explore the island and see absolutely everything Ocracoke had to offer! (We had almost 9 hours to spend, after all.)

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I’m a huge Once Upon a Time fan, specifically a Captain Hook fan, so imagine my fangirl delight when we ate lunch at the Jolly Roger! Arrg!

Sadly, neither Killian Jones nor Emma Swan made an appearance that day.

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With full bellies, we went straight to be beach. It was my daughter’s top priority. And we had a blast! I looked for shark’s teeth while she battled the surf. We both dug in the sand, and she even got me in the water for a few minutes. But at 4pm I told her we had to dry off and move along.

I was afraid Teach’s Hole, the Blackbeard museum and store, would close early on Sundays and I didn’t want to miss it. Visiting Teach’s Hole was literally the only reason I wanted to go to Ocracoke. I’m a fan of pirates, and I wanted to learn the local history. And maybe buy a couple souvenirs.

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Can you read the sign in the window? 🙁

Despite what their website says, Teach’s Hole is closed on Sundays. Yep. Closed.

The best we could do was get our pictures taken in the Blackbeard cutout.

Not exactly what I was hoping for.

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By this time it was around 5pm and we were on the downward slide toward the 9pm ferry.

We took our time at the island’s lighthouse, one of only two still in operation.

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The Springer’s Point trail was amazing. For a couple girls bordering on sunburnt, it was nice to stroll along a nature trail almost completely canopied in trees and bushes. Along the way we saw an old well and an even older cemetery.

The bugs, though, were vicious. My daughter made me walk in front so I’d be her bug shield. And when they tried to attach, I told her to just keep moving. Stopping only encourages them.

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The history of Springer’s Point. Unfortunately, there are no remains of the pirates’ meeting place.

After dinner, we spent the last couple hours playing at the boat launch. My daughter temporarily adopted two hermit crabs, Bob and Earl. They had a lot of fun together.

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A view of one of the island’s tide pools at sunset.

The best surprise of all? The park near the ferries is rampant with fuzzy baby ducks. Luckily, their parents weren’t overly protective and we watched them bumble about in the grass until full dark.

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We didn’t get home until 1am, but overall the trip was one I’ll always remember. Mostly, because the island was unbelievably beautiful, from top to bottom. We weren’t in any rush, so we took our time enjoying everything.

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Enjoy this Free Red Plague Sneak Peek PDF full of excerpts and extras!

<3 Anna

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