Tag Archives: travel

Hawaiian Luaus to California Dreams

This has been an incredibly busy spring consisting of several trips, book releases and exciting news to come.

Events began in April with a trip down to San Diego, California for the Pacific Cultural Association/American Cultural Association national conference where I was a presenter on a panel concerning the works of bestselling novelist Anne Rice.

 

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Along with three other presenters, we discussed the nature of Rice’s work on the field of gothic literature and the evolution of the vampiric figure in contemporary novels. The panel was an enthusiastic group of scholars from all over the world; Romania, England and Ireland, just to name a few places. The panel created a lively discussion on not only Rice’s work, but the vampiric figure. While we may not agree on all aspects of literature, we did come to one conclusion, Rice’s work has had a profound and last influence upon the gothic field.

The conference itself was an amazing event. It showcased a wide variety of topics, running multiple panels on a multitude of subjects dealing with popular and American culture. When I was not engaged with the vampire panel, I also attended several presentations on Tolkien, mythology, film, television, creative writing, and children’s literature.

 

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In addition to the conference, I also had an opportunity to spend a wonderful afternoon visiting with dear friends and fellow artists, including the always amazing Becket, author of the Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl series, his incredible wife Christina, and artist-extraordinaire Raven Quinn, the illustrator for the map in both my Black Rose Guard and Rise of the Temple Gods series.

 

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We had a fun afternoon visiting and discussing upcoming projects, and testing different flavors of ice cream on what turned out to be a beautiful sunny afternoon.

 

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I was also fortunate enough to have my brother accompany me on the California trip, so we took  day off to have some fun visiting some both theme parks and vineyards in the Temecula Valley.

 

 

In addition, I also had the opportunity to meet one of my narrators, Cassandra Richardson, in person. We have worked on multiple audiobook projects together, including all three of the books in the Rise of the Temple Gods series, the recently released Shadow of the Rose, and the upcoming audiobook version of my science-fiction novel, Indoctrination. It was wonderful to meet her in person and I cannot recommend her amazing talent enough!

 

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In June, I took a vacation trip to Hawaii, a gift from both of my grandmother’s for my birthday. Though it was my second time visiting the islands, the pervious trip had been nearly a decade before.

 

 

My grandmothers, who visit the islands almost ever year, graciously showed me around, taking me on a road trip to see the important sights, namely the Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S Arizona. While I had been to this site previously, it was no less a humbling and beautiful memorial.

 

 

The rest of the trip consisted of stunning beaches, a look into Polynesian Culture, and a trip to the Dole factory for Pineapple Whips!

 

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And course, as always, we visited the Hard Rock Cafe.

 

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For those unaware, I am an avid pin collector and visit the cafes everywhere I go.

Both trips were incredible experiences, and I had an amazing time.

Next week, I will be traveling to San Diego Comic Con! I am very excited to be attending, and will be posting about the trip upon my return!

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Australia, New Zealand & Middle Earth

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Our crazy foray into the Outback began with more time in airports and airplanes than I’ve ever spent. After the brief puddle-jumper flight to Vancouver, B.C. we boarded our flight for Australia.

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16 hours later we arrived in Brisbane in order to catch a flight to Sydney, before then catching a flight to Cairns (a town on the Australian east coast). Which means, with the time changes, we got on a plane in the US at 8pm on Saturday night. We reached our first destination at 9pm on Monday night! Time travel! Great Scott!

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After collapsing at the hotel for the night, we got up early and caught the shuttle to the marina for our boat tour of the Great Barrier Reef. Personally, I’m very nervous when it comes to being out on the water, but managed to work up the nerve to get into the ocean for a little while. We saw the coral and loads of fish, including a few from the cast of Finding Nemo.

My husband and Steve, on the other hand, loved the water. So they were out much longer while I enjoyed the scenic views of the upper deck of the boat. It was a clear, sunny day, just perfect for it. Which was very fortunate considering the thunderstorm that rolled in a few hours after we got off the boat.

The three of us grabbed some dinner downtown. My husband and Steve (again, far braver) also sampled some of the local delicacies. On the Bill of Fare: Barramundi (a kind of regional sea-bass), Crocodile, Kangaroo, and Emu. I decided to stick with Shrimp, though I’m told Roo can be tasty. I’ll live with the mystery.

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We then flew to a place I had always dreamed of visiting, Sydney!

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Naturally, we made sure to visit the Sydney Opera House. We took the full tour, learning the history of the conception, construction and history of the famous building. It was a lot of fun though, I must say, the Opera House itself was a much more practical building than I imagined. I guess, for some reason, I envisioned something like the royal opera house of Paris or Munich. Elaborate structures with paintings on the ceilings and velvet curtains. Instead, it was a modern marvel, practical with a major emphasis on function over aesthetic compared to its European counterparts. Given that it was completed in the 1970’s, the modern nature of the building makes a lot more sense.

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The next day in Sydney we went out to explore more of the city. As anyone who knows me will be anything but shocked, our wandering led to a wine bar. Along with some delicious native wines, they served an amazing fondue. The first course: goat cheese with chaarcutere & the second: dark chocolate with fruit and sweets. We basically ended up with the room to ourselves and the staff matched Australian wines to all the foods we were trying. All three of us love wine tasting so that was a lot of fun and we got to relax and marvel at the fact that we were actually trying Australian wine in Australia with Australians.

 

 

Steve did not accompany us to New Zealand (some nonsense about “going home…paying bills…fired if I’m not back by Monday”), so that was just me and Cam on that portion of the trip. We started our Kiwi adventure with a tour of the Glow-worm Caves.

After a pretty hike through the hills, we were taken into a pitch-black cave and put on this inflatable raft. The group floated down the river running through the insides of the caves. Looking up, at times it was like looking at a starry-night sky with a slightly blue-green glow to it. A glow-worm is itself like a small caterpillar, smaller than most fishing lures, and the bio-luminescence is meant to attract food. I wasn’t crazy about the bug, part, but the visuals were certainly something to behold.

Going into the cave was a bit of a trial for me, as it was narrow in a few places and I can get a touch claustrophobic, but I am glad that I did it, as it was certainly a unique and beautiful experience.

Then we went to my favorite part – Hobbiton!

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On a working farm a couple of hours outside of Auckland is the original set for Hobbiton, home town of the Hobbits from the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series.

 

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 We managed to grab tickets to the evening banquet tour and it was AMAZING!!! We took an extended evening tour of the shire, got tons of photos and heard fun stories about the movie set and filming. The story of the discovery of the filming site was fascinating enough. A scout wandered onto the property on a random farm on a Saturday. Fortunately, it was halftime during the Rugby game and the owner opened the door. The scout was allowed to tour the property and found the three things Peter Jackson was looking for: a lake, a tree, and of course, hills.

 

The scenery itself was beautiful. Each of the Hobbitt Holes had a different theme, noting the different jobs each of the inhabitants would have done (gardener, bee-keeper, fisherman, post-box artist, etc.) We also got to see Sam’s House, the Party Tree, and Bag-End. After the tour, we went into the Green Dragon and tried some ales that were made specifically there (I brought home a bottle of Southfarthing Cider and Middle Earth wine).

 

Dinner began with a red-velvet curtain reveal of the Hobbit-inspired feast. Food was displayed like a work of art!

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Roasted chickens, fried sausages, beef-and-ale pie, ham-hock, all manner of veggies, and more than enough for Seconds (or Thirds, if you are in the Hobbit spirit). It was also followed by a huge dessert tray with some varieties of New Zealand desserts, which were interesting to try including Kiwi Pavolva (hard meringue, whipped cream and fruit).

Then we got to take the tour back through the Hobbiton set by lantern-light. The entire experience was incredible and we got really great memories captured by some great photos.

 

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I had my conference the next day—the Gothic Association of New Zealand and Australia. (GANZA) I presented a paper on child vampires that seemed well received and had the pleasure of getting to meet a wide range of Gothic scholars whose company I greatly enjoyed.

 

Then we headed down to Wellington, which is on the southern tip of the North Island. I loved the city. It was on the coastline so we walked the beach and had dinner where we could see the ocean.

This began our independent Lord of the rings filming site expedition.

 

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We saw Mt. Victoria (the filming location for the scene where Aragon gets the sword Anduril in Return of the King) and then went to see the filming location for Rivendell! It was also incredible, inside of a National park that was rather breathtaking in itself.

 

We also took a brief tour of Weta Studios, which designed all the props for LOTR and did the digital work on Golum and and few other main scenes. They also worked on District 9, The Avengers, and the new Wall of China film with Matt Damon that is coming out soon, just to name a few.

 

While in the area, we spent a couple of nights with family friends who live there. They played tour-guide for two days and took us to the filming location of Mt. Doom. Another beautiful site, and an actual active volcano no less.

 

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And then we spent the second morning at a vineyard, trying some local New Zealand wines.

 

That’s the condensed version of my trip. I loved it, but it went by too fast!

 

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Germany, Romania & the Dracula Workshop

Last week, I attended the International Conference Beliefs and Behaviors in Education and Culture in where I was a presenter in the workshop titled: Where’s the Place of Dracula: (De)constructing Stereotypes in the Study of the Mythical Space in Literature and the Arts.

The conference was held at the West University of Timișoara, Romania. Everything from the actual conference to the tour of the Romanian countryside was absolutely amazing! And what better place to hold a Dracula conference than in Romania, where Stoker set his famous novel.

However before I went to Romania, I first decided to spend a few days in Munich, Germany, a country I had always wanted to visit. After landing in the city, my first full day was spent exploring downtown. Sights included: Marienplatz, which is a plaza showing several beautiful examples of Gothic architecture. It was referred to by one local I spoke with as the ‘Heart of Prague’ and a glance at the magnificent structure which forms the center of he Plaza, I could easily see why it would be referred to in such a way.

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We also went to the Residenz Munchen. composed of a series of elaborate buildings consisting of the households of important figures, elaborate artwork, to an opera house which was by far, my favorite of the buildings I was fortunate enough to view.

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And of course, and perhaps most importantly, the Hard Rock Cafe! (I am an avid pin and shot glass collector)

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We met my friend, Hans, for lunch. He is photographer, fellow writer and Dracula scholar, author of several Dracula research books including the Dracula Bram Stoker Travel Guide, a project he is working on with fellow author, Dacre Stoker.

We also went to Nymphenburg Palace, which was nothing short of breathtaking from the elaborate rooms (which reminded me a lot of the Strahov Monastery in Prague):

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Outside photograph of Nymphenburg Palace

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Inside photograph of Nymphenburg Palace

To the garden which featured statues of the Greek Gods. It was a special site for me, as a lover of classical Greek and Roman history and literature.

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Altogether, we spent three wonderful days in Munich before heading back to the airport for a thankfully much shorter flight, to Timisoara, Romania. The conference organizers were kind of enough to arrange transportation, so all of the conference attendees had rides awaiting them to their respective hotels, which was very much appreciated.

The conference itself was filled with speakers on various subjects dealing with various issues concerning everything from the education system, to contemporary issues facing Romania and surrounding countries, to what I had been invited to speak on – Dracula. The key note speech on Stoker’s Dracula was given a Prof. of Gothic literature. The speech would begin the discussion for the workshop which took place the following day. The workshop itself was a wonderful gathering of vampire enthusiasts; from professors in the field to graduate students to a few select authors and independent researchers. Topics covered included, but were certainly not limited to: The possible location of Dracula’s Castle the impact of vampire texts upon actual locations; family dynamics in vampire film; to people who self-identify as ‘real’ vampires in one form or another. Each speaker was amazing and had something very unique to offer to the building group discussion and I was honored to be a part of it.

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Speakers of the Dracula Workshop – photo credit to: http://benecke.com/

The last day of the conference was a group tour into Transylvania where the highlight of the visit was a castle which serves as a possible contender for a might have inspired Bram Stoker when he sat down to write the story of the now famous Transylvanian count. It was an impression, imagination-inspiring place, to say the least.

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I absolutely loved getting to explore Corvin Castle, but to have the opportunity to do so alongside a group of people who love the vampire story as much as I, made it absolute magic!

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In front of Corvin’s Castle, Romania

To see more photographs, visit my Facebook page:

 https://www.facebook.com/klboneauthor

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London & Cambridge

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I spent last week in the United Kingdom attending a conference titled – Great Writing: The International Creative Writing Conference. The paper I presented primarily covered the conflict between the creative writing and literature branches of English in academia.  It was followed by a ten-minute reading from my YA Fantasy novel, Rise of the Temple Gods: Heir to Kale. I enjoyed getting to spend time with fellow authors and learning about the many amazing and diverse views on the writing process! For more information on the paper I presented, please see my pervious blog entry titled: The Writer’s Journey- https://klbone.com/2014/05/06/the-writers-journey/

I also attended a meeting of the Watling Street Writers Group of St. Albans, which I used to attend while living in England. There were a bunch of new faces, though a few old ones as well. My best friend and writing partner, Jonny, also came up to London to see me. We spent the day at Kensington Palace. It was my first time there and the grounds were beautiful!

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We had a great time exploring the gardens before eventually walking over to Hyde Park and stopping by Hard Rock Café. For those who don’t know, London is home to the very first Hard Rock, which was founded in 1971. I collect Hard Rock pins and t-shirts. I had a good time walking through the parks and enjoying good company.

I also spent a few days in Cambridge. I had never been to the area before so I made a point to see lots of the tourist spots, including St. John’s College

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King’s College

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and a few others. I have a friend who is currently completing her Masters at Cambridge, so she kindly played tour guide for the visit. I thought Cambridge was beautiful and I could not help but stand in awe of the architecture and history portrayed within the walls of the university. I loved the visit and it was great to see my friends as well.

Overall, it was a great trip!

 

 

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