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The Value of a Friend

true-shabu-4I believe there is room for more than one best friend at a time in our lives. Each of mine serves a different purpose in my life – a life enriched by them. They are friends who would drop everything should I need them. In turn, I would drop everything for them.

Two years ago, I took half a day from cleaning out Auntie Boogie’s condo (Auntie Jude and I had just dropped off Dr. Cuz at the airport and ran errands) to spend with Hordus on his day off. I had hinted about the stress I was experiencing on the way back from dinner the night before but I didn’t say more because we were in mixed company. Hordus, as always, picks up the hints and started the long conversation on the way to pick up his oldest son, Four. By the end, I was unburdened and cleansed, not because anything was different, but because talking to him always made me feel better even if nothing was settled. And not that I wasn’t talking to anyone else about it. I had other friends I was talking to, but again, no one is like Hordus and no one ever will be.

This was my first time meeting Four. Hordus used to send me baby pictures of him many years ago, so it was weird seeing him as an adult and working on his future. Four also had the day off so he spent the rest of the day with us. We told him stories about us as teenagers, how we met, how Jerm took Four’s mom to senior prom (Hordus and Four’s mom went to different schools than me and Jerm), and how people thought Hordus and I were dating and would have a bewildered expression when Four’s mom was with us.

Hordus always knows what I need when I’m stressed, whether it’s helping me process through something or dragging me outside to watch a lightning storm. This time around, I needed to ground myself at the beach.

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He drove us to Huntington State Beach after lunch and I stood with my feet buried in the sand, watching the storm over the ocean and ignoring the blustery wind roaring around me. In the midst of turmoil, I was at peace and grateful, nearly crying tears of joy because I knew I was where I supposed to be in that moment. Sometimes you have to journey into the eye of the storm to clear your head and see the bigger picture. I knew my personal chaos would come to an end, I told myself that over and over but could not bring myself to believe it until that moment.

 

You can’t put a price on friendship. I can’t quantify the close friendships I have. It doesn’t work that way. Friendships are meant to lift you up and support you in times of need. Friendships are meant to be your pillar of strength when you are too weak to stand on your own. Friendships are meant to be non-judgmental and guide you to the best choice for you…or to just keep listening.

True friends are priceless.

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Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Real Settings

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The Encinitas sign at night.

I never planned on setting Family Ties in Encinitas, or even in California. Unconsciously, the settings I was imagining as I wrote the first draft were familiar to me. In the end, connecting my characters to a setting I knew helped me to better connect with them. The same thing with The Downward Spiral. I didn’t intend to set it in San Diego, it just made sense to me that I set it there which led to me connecting the story and characters to characters from another book I’m working on and its fictional setting in Southern California – if you’ve read The Downward Spiral feel free to guess which characters you’ll see again in the future.

There are more real settings in Family Ties than in The Downward Spiral. While in Southern California on our road trip I took some pictures of places mentioned in Family Ties along with some pictures that inspired a scene in The Downward Spiral.

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The fictional Encinitas High School and La Costa High School in Family Ties are based on different areas of San Dieguito Academy (formerly San Dieguito High School). The parking lot is where Sara gets picked up and dropped off at La Costa High School. It has changed a bit since I went to school there but not too much.

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This is the courtyard of the school where Sara, Arissa, Jason, and Damien spent many lunches.

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Outside the fictional biology room and where Sara and Jason spent lunch alone further down.

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Magic Mountain which was mentioned but did not have a scene. I took this as we were driving to L.A. from Napa.

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A view of Moonlight Beach from the parking lot. This is the first beach mentioned in Family Ties.

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The picnic tables at Moonlight Beach where one scene took place in Family Ties.

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Cardiff State Beach where a couple of nighttime scenes were set. It wouldn’t be nearly as pretty if I tried to take a picture of it at night, though.

For more on Encinitas, you can check out this video from the Encinitas Coast Life Blog.

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Entrance to Hotel Del Coronado.

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The backside where Sara and Jason would’ve walked through to get to the beach…

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There were more places I wanted to take pictures of after leaving Coronado but we got called away and had to go back up to Carlsbad. Included in what I wanted to take pictures of was San Diego Bay, which had a scene in The Downward Spiral.

While researching Jason and Sara’s apartment in L.A., I searched for buildings within walking distance to UCLA and found the Levering Arms. They included floor plans in their photos and I chose one of them as their new home.

The other real setting I used in The Downward Spiral was Balboa Park. We met up with my friend and fellow author, Richard D. Mellinger, one afternoon and spent several hours wandering through the park while chatting. I’ll share more about that in another post. What’s important for this post is that I was inspired to write a scene that takes place in the Japanese Friendship Garden on the deck of the Inamori Pavillion. The garden is rather large and Inamori Pavillion, if you take the same route we did, is a natural stopping point before returning to the entrance.

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This bridge is one of several in the garden. One of my favorite things to photograph in Japanese gardens are the bridges, particularly drum bridges.

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Ikebana inside Inamori Pavillion.

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Last but not least, the koi that inspired a funny moment in The Downward Spiral.

My next book takes place in mostly real settings but it’s also set in the 1990s, so many of the businesses that I use are no longer around. In some cases, the buildings themselves have been torn down. Intrigued? I’ll give you a little peek of one location in closing…

Make Horse

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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2017 Reading Challenge

2017-reading-challenge-2In 2016, my best friend posted a reading challenge. It was simple enough, twelve different books. My average is about two books per week (sometimes more, sometimes just one) and I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. And it wasn’t – even if two of the books were ones I wanted to beat my head on.

This year, I wanted to do another one and started looking at lists last week. I found this one which is technically for 2016 – but who cares? The more I looked at it, though, the more I thought, “I want more of a challenge.”

Then I found this one from POPSUGAR. Not only is it more challenging, but it has an “advanced” section as well.

As I was making the tracker in my bullet journal (above – each book will be colored in as I complete it) I decided I would combine the two as there is not much overlap. Why not? Why do a challenge if it won’t be challenging?

Who wants to join me? Share your reading challenges with me on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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