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New Zealand Dream

If there was one country I dreamed about visiting it was New Zealand. I’ll never forget hitting the “purchase” button when I booked the trip to be there for the 2015 Christmas season. One of the activities I had to partake in while in Auckland was jumping off the tallest building in the city, Sky Tower:

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Yeah, I stared up at it for a couple of days before I did it! Then again, most people would be thinking about it before hurling themselves off a sixty-five story building?

No, I didn’t chicken out. Here’s me suiting up!

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Auckland is such a fun city, and it’s surrounded by amazing islands, too. This is Tiri Tiri Matangi, which is advertised as a bird watching haven, but actually has a trail that circles the entire island. I practically had it to myself, and what a memorable hike!

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My dreams of New Zealand are hardly satisfied. I’m looking for my next trip, and plan to make my first visit to Australia while I’m “in the area”!

Inspiring Images: Jack Ruby

What can I say? Rock stars inspire me! I grew up in the 70s and came of age in 80s. My biggest fantasy crushes were on rockers. While every other twentysomething swooned over W. Axl Rose, I sweated over Steven Adler:

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So it shouldn’t be any wonder that I picked him as my inspiration for Jack Ruby, drummer for the New York Gems and best friend of Nikk Saffire, who I blogged about last week. Both guys are introduced in Girls Gone Groupie, my first book, and play even bigger roles in Gunning for Groupie Gold, the sequel. Both are available on my BOOKS page.

Visiting the Middle East

The Middle East gets a bad rap. I’ve been there a handful of times now, and have had nothing but great experiences. My first visit was to Egypt in 2006, the most recent being Jordan this past summer. My dream trip! Here’s me goofing off in front of one of the ruins of Petra:

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This is what I like to tell people about the Middle East: for me, the most beautiful places I’ve visited thus far are my own country, (of course!), South Africa, and New Zealand. But the Middle East is the most INTERESTING part of the world.

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Maybe the desert aspect has something to do with the appeal of the Middle East for me, too. I love being in the desert! Jordan is actually the driest country on Earth. And don’t ya just love a baby camel?

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Inspiring Images: Nikk Saffire

I mean, look at him! Who wouldn’t base a rock star character on the young Nikki Sixx?

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Nikk Saffire is the lead guitarist for 80s metal heroes the New York Gems in my Girls of Glam Rock Series. Brooding, bad, beautiful, and madly talented, Nikk leaves behind his childhood sweetheart Em’rald to be a rock playboy, and has to compete with blond metal god Sammy Gunn to get her back. Meet them all in Girls Gone Groupie and Gunning for Groupie Gold, available on my BOOKS page. I tell his and Em’rald’s story in full in my next book, Live Vicariously Through Me, available soon!

 

Volunteering with Elephants

Sure, I love them National Parks. But that’s hardly my only source of traveling. Every so often I get the urge to spend my summers volunteering. 2006 found me in India teaching school outside of Chennai. In 2009 I did another teaching program in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where I also got to make several visits to the Angkor Wat temples. While I was there I heard about an elephant program deep in the jungle outside of Mondulkiri, and knew I would do it someday. Seven years later, there I was. Yeah, sometimes they sneak up on you!

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I don’t know that I’ve ever worked so hard. Planting bamboo after hauling the seedlings down muddy trails, building bridges out of trees we chopped down, clearing fields for future banana trees for the elephants to feed on. We also learned how to do health checks on the elephants. That’s me in the green shirt:

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I paid a little extra money for “private accommodations,” meaning a grass-topped hut! But wait…who said this guy could invade my privacy?

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I continued on to Laos after the Elephant Project. That’s for a future blog post.

 

Inspiring Images: Shark Gant

When I think of rock and roll managers, one person comes to mind: Peter Grant of Led Zeppelin fame (and infamy.)

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Fierce, fiercely loyal, and downright brutal when he had to be. No wonder I chose him as my inspiration for Shark Gant, who appears in all three of my Girls of Glam Rock books. Notice the name similarities. Add an “r” and Gant becomes Grant. Add an “i” and Gant becomes GIANT, the true size of Shark’s heart underneath that tough exterior.

Meet Shark and a host of other thought-provoking characters in my series, available on my BOOKS page.

Hiking in the Valley of Death

Every outdoor enthusiast has their favorite National Park, and Death Valley is definitely high on my list. I’ve been there more than any other park, a total of eight times. Unless you love the desert Death Valley probably isn’t on your Bucket List, but you’re missingĀ  a great park.

This is me on Wildrose Peak in 2011, the last time I was there. It’s been too long, but I’m busy doing other parks! Also in the area are some of the best ghost towns in the country. The desert is a compelling place.

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