Location Hunting in CA

Beach near Bodega Bay, CA

Bodega Bay area, CA

One of the best perks of writing is travelling for research. I made a trip to Bodega Bay, CA back in April of 2013 to find the perfect shot for the cover of Redemption.

Olive grove, Oro Organics, Paso Robles, CA

Olive grove, Oro Organics, Paso Robles, CA

Now I’m looking for the perfect location for a pivotal, high-powered meeting of nine influential families for the next book in the Gift Legacy series. These families have been threatened and are highly vigilant of their privacy and their security.

Earlier books in the series dictated that the meeting would take place in California. I considered setting the scene in a warehouse, an isolated country manor, or even a barn. And then I thought, why not a winery?

Wine cave entrance at Stag's Leap Winery, Napa, CA

Stag’s Leap Wine Cave

After consultation with friends familiar with California’s wine country, and subsequent online research, I narrowed the possibilities to a climate-controlled cave with wine barrels lining its walls; a private estate down a winding, oak-lined drive; or an 18th century stone castle.

Castello di Amorosa Winery Napa, CA

Castello di Amorosa Winery Napa, CA

Any of these spectacular locations would make an impressive setting for a clandestine meeting of high-end power brokers. But to describe any of these locations with authenticity, I need to know what they sound like, what they feel like, even what they smell like.

I could see only one solution—road trip!

And what a fabulous trip it’s been. Turns out, every one of these locations has one or more spectacular meeting or dining rooms with impressive furniture in awe-inspiring surroundings. (They also have delicious wine which must be sampled, but I digress.)

Now that all of my senses have been exposed to the potential of these places, I am primed to write the scene. Though it will be a mash-up of several locations, you’ll recognize it when you read it.

Meantime, enjoy some pics from our trip to Pismo Beach, CA, and points north through Napa.

Hairpin turns Hwy 29, Napa, CA

Hairpin turns Hwy 29, Napa, CA

And if you ever have the opportunity to visit this area, I highly recommend it. The scenery is spectacular, as is the wine. But if you’re prone to motion sickness, take something for it before you travel the northern portions of Hwy. 29.

And if you’d like an adventure set on the coast of BC, you can get a Kindle copy of Awakening with one click right here.
If eBooks aren’t for you, click on the covers below for more purchasing options.

awakening-wm-600x960-for-wp-widgetRevelation WSEd Kindle Cover 2500x1563Redemption Kindle Cover 2500x1563Penance eBook Cover 2500x1563 correctedbetrayal-ebook-cover-2500x1563

Advertisements
Posted in Book Series, On Writing, Research, The Gift Legacy, The Gift: Redemption, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Trick or Treat or Toadstool

The monthly calendar is looking pretty thin with just two pages left in the year. Where did October go?

ToadstoolWe don’t see many ghouls or goblins at our door but Halloween inspiration pops up in expected places, like pathways. This toadstool is far too spooktacular to be a mere mushroom.

October started off with a roar, 12th man roar, that is. We attended the Seattle Seahawks vs Indianapolis Colts game at Century Field. It was my first live football game and it was so much more fun experienced from the stands. The crowd is named the 12th (wo)man because there are 11 players on both offense and defense. The Seahawks 12th are the loudest in the league and I can now attest to that.

Clear Plastic BagOne thing I wasn’t counting on was not being able to take my purse into the game. Security no longer allows purses, only wallets into the stadium. I had to buy a clear plastic bag, transfer my purse contents into it, and pay for a locker to store the purse until after the game. And even then, when I went through security, they wouldn’t allow me to take in my binoculars’ vinyl 5″ pouch. I had to toss it. I hope I can find a replacement for it. The security people told us this is or will be the new norm for stadiums across the US, so be prepared!

Rake and leavesBack home, fall weather has set in. The crab apple tree and russet leaves are providing the exercise, and blazing fires in the evenings are providing the warmth.

In writing news, the outline for the final book in the Gift Legacy series is now roughed in and I’ve started writing. But … given Awakening started as a one-off then grew into a trilogy which morphed into a series, I feel I need to qualify final: I’m writing the last planned book in the series.

Happy Halloween!

And when you’re tired of raking leaves, take a load off and escape into Emelynn’s world. You can get your own Kindle copy of Awakening with one click right here.
If eBooks aren’t for you, click on the covers below for more purchasing options.

awakening-wm-600x960-for-wp-widgetRevelation WSEd Kindle Cover 2500x1563Redemption Kindle Cover 2500x1563Penance eBook Cover 2500x1563 correctedbetrayal-ebook-cover-2500x1563

Posted in Island Life, On Writing, The Gift Legacy, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

First Draft Done!

It’s celebration time! I finished writing the first draft of the next book in The Gift Legacy this week and toasted the accomplishment with a fine bottle of red. If you’re keeping track, this is the sixth book in the series and follows on from Penance. The working title is Deadly Deception. What do you think?

Typing “the end” is a major milestone, but the book is still a long way from done. Next, the editing starts, but before that, I need to let it rest, get some distance from it.

In other words, put my pen down and step away from the computer. Not writing is an adjustment. My daily routine has a huge hole in the middle of it. Suddenly, I have time on my hands.

Now I’m playing catch up. Spring cleaning, which didn’t happen in the spring, comes first. Next is writing a stack of overdue book reviews (apologies included). After that, my website needs an update and I might even tackle the audio recordings for the first chapters of Penance and Betrayal.

But before I get to all that, I’m taking a wee break. We’re off to Seattle for a few days to celebrate two family birthdays, attend my first ever football game (Seattle Sea Hawks vs Indianapolis Colts) and enjoy the company of our niece and nephew who are visiting from the Cayman Islands.

If you’d like a wee break and haven’t read Awakening yet, you can pick up your Kindle copy with one click right here.
If eBooks aren’t for you, click on the covers below for more purchasing options.

awakening-wm-600x960-for-wp-widgetRevelation WSEd Kindle Cover 2500x1563Redemption Kindle Cover 2500x1563Penance eBook Cover 2500x1563 correctedbetrayal-ebook-cover-2500x1563

Posted in Author Events, Book Titles, Deadly Deception, Island Life, On Writing, The Gift Legacy, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

Water Babies, Snow Babies and Bonfire Aficionados

I almost didn’t make my annual trip to Muskoka this year—didn’t want to wear out my welcome; I’d visited twice last year, once for my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary, and again at Christmas. Happily, all it took was one phone call from my big sister to change my mind. Guess I was looking for a push, and it worked.

Condo Rooftop PoolThis year, my vacation didn’t quite sync with my sister’s time off, but it meant I got to spend some time in downtown Toronto which I haven’t done for years.

St James Church SpireI love the old stone buildings and the towering spires of the Cathedral Church of St. James is a beautiful example.

Toronto's Flatiron BuildingRed brick is a Toronto staple and found everywhere. I snapped a pic of the Flatiron building with the Trompe l’ceil wall on the rear.

Toronto City HallI paused at City Hall and remembered finishing a ten-kilometre Miles-for-Millions walkathon there when I was a pre-teen (though I can’t remember where the trek began or what we were raising money for).

Toronto Dog FountainI stopped to watch dogs and their owners enjoy a whimsical spouting fountain in Berczy Park that made me wish I still had my dogs.

St. Lawrence MarketThe St. Lawrence Market hasn’t changed though the pork chops weren’t piled sky high in the butchers’ cases like they used to be.

At the end of the week, we headed up to my sister’s cottage, which is our Grandmother’s former home. It’s next door to our parent’s place on the Manitouwabing River.

Family cottage on the Manitouwabing River View from the cottage porch Family Cottage Lawn

I had a terrific visit with parents, sisters, a brother, a great aunt, cousins, nieces, some guy named Bob and another named Phil (I think) and many friends. We spent time reminiscing, as we inevitably do, and adding to each other’s memories.

Manitouwabing River FallsWhen I was young, I didn’t appreciate the cottage like I do now. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy being there, but the drive up was torture; I got terribly car sick (still do) and it was a four-hour slog. I hated leaving my friends in the city and missing all the weekend parties (good planning my folks would say!).

Decorative Wheelhouse on the Manitouwabing RiverThese Muskoka visits take me back in time to magical summers and weekends. We were water babies and snow babies and bonfire aficionados. I treasure the memories and look forward to going back each year.

On the writing front, not many words made it to the page during my time in Ontario, but Emelynn’s next book sits at 65K. It’s coming along and I’m looking forward to getting back to it this week.

Denman Saturday Market August long weekend 2017Another note on the rebranding front: at the August long weekend’s Denman’s Saturday market, after his wife bought Awakening, her husband, Frank, told me he’d avoided my table because he thought I was peddling religious material. That’s yet another vote for rebranding!

You can pick up your Kindle copy of The Gift: Awakening with one click right here.
If eBooks aren’t for you, click on the covers below for more purchasing options.

awakening-wm-600x960-for-wp-widgetRevelation WSEd Kindle Cover 2500x1563Redemption Kindle Cover 2500x1563Penance eBook Cover 2500x1563 correctedbetrayal-ebook-cover-2500x1563

Posted in Book Titles, Island Life, On Writing, Pets, The Gift Legacy, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Netting Word Count and Salmon

Aerial Shot of Kyuquot Sound Lodge

Photo Courtesy K. Clark

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Kyuquot, a small community on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. Technically it was a fishing trip, but what I netted was word count, because when the anglers are away, the writer will play.

A more spectacular perch from which to write would be hard to find. Inspirational vistas, no cell phone service, and only a whisper of Internet added up to hours of uninterrupted writing bliss.

The lodge is located on one of the small islands that dot Kyuquot Sound. Every window offered a spectacular view, and the expansive decks that surround the lodge provided plenty of outdoor space.

 

Bedroom View of Ocean & TreesMV Uchuck IIIKayaks and hiking were right outside the door, and directly across from us, a helicopter flew in and out of a nursing station outpost. On Thursday, we headed outside to wave to the MV Uchuck III which cruised by on its weekly supply trip.

Eagles feastingEach day when the crew returned with their catch, they’d clean the fish on the dock and take the heads and innards to a nearby rock to feed the local wildlife. The gorging that ensued was a photographer’s dream even for those of us without long lenses.

With the salmon iced down and the eagles fed, we’d enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer, and the anglers would entertain us with colourful lies about the one(s) that got away. Each evening a different crew cooked dinner, salmon on all but one night, and I’d be hard-pressed to choose a favourite rendition.

Sadly, we couldn’t stay forever, but we left Kyuquot topped up with good food, fond memories and loaded fishing coolers.

The next Gift Legacy book sits at +50K words, well over the halfway mark. Every day I’m pumped to write the next scene and if I ever need some Kyuquot inspiration, I can always cook a yummy salmon dinner and gaze out to the Pacific!

JPMcLean at Denman Saturday Market

Photo Courtesy S.Dyck

A note on the rebranding front: yesterday I set up a table at Denman’s Saturday market and a group of three women approached to ask if the books had a religious theme. That’s three more votes for rebranding!

Don’t forget! All Gift Legacy eBooks are on for half price via Smashwords, including the boxed set, until Monday, July 31. You’ll see the reduced price at checkout.

If eBooks aren’t for you, click on the covers below for more purchasing options.

awakening-wm-600x960-for-wp-widgetRevelation WSEd Kindle Cover 2500x1563Redemption Kindle Cover 2500x1563Penance eBook Cover 2500x1563 correctedbetrayal-ebook-cover-2500x1563

Posted in Island Life, On Writing, The Gift Legacy, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

San Diego and Book Covers

JPMcLean in San Diego AirportEarlier this month, we took a short trip to see dear friends in La Mesa, California, just outside of San Diego. It was wonderful to catch up with our friends, and also to see a bit of San Diego. A few scenes in the new book take place in San Diego, so it was good to get a first-hand feel for the airport, the sounds of the streets, and the ambience of the city.

I didn’t get a good photo of the boats along the waterfront, so you’ll have to trust me when I say they were impressive.

Container Store's shop windowFashion Valley was a treat with its high-end shops. I fogged up the windows of Prada, Coach, Emporio Armani, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., and Louis Vuitton, but didn’t venture inside as my Canadian dollars were shaking in their boots. I did, however, find a fabulous new-to-me shop, The Container Store, AKA paradise for an organizational freak like me. Sadly, the shops aren’t in Canada, which is probably a good thing.

JPMcLean posing beside old postmaster desk in Old Town, San DiegoOld Town San Diego, though touristy, was an entertaining diversion and we ate dinner at Guadalajara’s on the recommendation of our cabbie. The food was tasty, as was the margarita that was the size of my head.

JPMcLean drinking huge margaritaBack home on the writing front, I’m contemplating something I’d like your input on–titles and book covers. Over the life of the Gift Legacy books, I’ve received feedback that the titles and covers suggest the books are in the “religion and spiritual” genre. They are not and I don’t want to mislead readers. They are contemporary fantasy thrillers. I’ve always felt that the book covers, like the books themselves, wouldn’t appeal to everyone, and left it at that. However, the issue keeps coming up and it’s getting harder to ignore.

Book covers, like their titles, have an important job to do; they have to convey the genre and tone of the book, as well as pique a reader’s curiosity. I feel like I’m too close to be objective, and though I’ve stated often how much I love the covers, I’m open to re-branding them.

And that’s why I’m asking for your input. What do you think? Are the covers and titles doing their job? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

You can read Emelynn’s story with one click right here.

awakening-wm-600x960-for-wp-widgetRevelation WSEd Kindle Cover 2500x1563Redemption Kindle Cover 2500x1563Penance eBook Cover 2500x1563 correctedbetrayal-ebook-cover-2500x1563

Posted in Book Covers, Book Titles, On Writing, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Skidding in to May’s Home Plate

Authors JPMcLean, Jennifer Manuel and Elinor Florence

Writers’ Meeting in Duncan, L to R JP McLean, Jennifer Manuel, Elinor Florence

Who else has a teaming inbox? A mess of chores begging for your undivided attention? A to-do list that would choke a horse? Making matters worse, the warming weather draws me outside to luncheons, farmers’ markets, farms, and farther away from those niggling emails, awaiting chores and other things that need to be done.

JPMcLean, Elinor Florence at the Old House, Courtenay, BC

JPMcLean, Elinor Florence & two charming gentlemen, The Old House, Courtenay, BC

Despite my efforts to touch base here once a month, May is waning fast. It’s been a busy month with a birthday, an anniversary and a writing project that keeps throwing down (up?) yellow flags.

The birthday and anniversary remind me that time marches on, the yellow flags remind me that I’m not in charge, and not nearly as clever as I imagined. So, while I sort through the yellow flags, review the tape, and decide what to do about the unruly prose, I take a step back, breathe, and realign my priorities.

Piglets on Ornney Farm, Denman Island

Piglets, Orkney Farm, Denman Island

Life, limb, and love comes first, writing second, all else?  Get in line. A good friend reminded me once, pick your battles. Good advice. Spring will only bless us once this year. Chores will go on the rinse and repeat cycle ad infinitum. I’m choosing good friends and piglets. See you in June! With any luck, the yellow flag situation will be resolved by then.

A story with no yellow flags is Emelynn’s story, you can pick it up with one click right here.

awakening-wm-600x960-for-wp-widgetRevelation WSEd Kindle Cover 2500x1563Redemption Kindle Cover 2500x1563Penance eBook Cover 2500x1563 correctedbetrayal-ebook-cover-2500x1563

Posted in Humour, Island Life, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Battling Weeds and Plot Holes

Image of a dwarf apple treeYesterday, I gathered my knee pad, gloves and garden tools and set out to dig in the dirt. I crawled under one of the dwarf apple trees, and settled in to do battle with a regiment of weeds that had settled in during the winter.

Weeding is one of those chores I do on autopilot, which frees up my mind to wander where it may. Normally, it wanders into the book I’m writing and combs through plot and character tangles.

Image of a dwarf apple treeYesterday, however, it didn’t wander that far. Across the road I heard the bleat of new lambs, the drone of a neighbour’s lawnmower, the sputter of a chainsaw. Overhead, birdsong competed with the distant clang of metal as someone worked on farm machinery.

These are sounds I hadn’t missed until I heard them again—sounds of spring and the promise of summer. It reminded me how fortunate I am to live in the countryside, and how grateful I am to be able to enjoy it.

Image of a rainbowAfter a few hours of weeding, I felt refreshed, recharged, and ready to tackle James, a character who is causing no end of trouble in the next Gift Legacy installment.

Is anyone else hearing the sound of spring?

Now … back to writing!

The Gift Legacy books are now available at Geek Crossing,#105-20285 Stewart Crescent, Maple Ridge, BC. Drop in and tell them I said hello!

You can pick up a weed-free digital copy of the book that started it all with one click right here. Click on the images below for other purchase options.

awakening-wm-600x960-for-wp-widgetRevelation WSEd Kindle Cover 2500x1563Redemption Kindle Cover 2500x1563Penance eBook Cover 2500x1563 correctedbetrayal-ebook-cover-2500x1563

Posted in Gratitude, Island Life, On Writing, The Gift Legacy | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

My Train of Thoughts Reviews The Gift: Betrayal

What a day! The sun’s shining, the temperature outside is almost warm, and there’s a new 5-star review of The Gift: Betrayal on Karen Oberlaender’s My Train of Thoughts blog. So happy to share it. Source: The Gift: Betrayal (The Gift Legacy, Awakening Redux (“#20”)) by J.P. McLean

Posted in Book Review, Gratitude, The Gift: Betrayal | 6 Comments

Who’s That Blogger? JP McLean

The Book Club Mom sure knows how to fire up my Saturday. It’s a real treat to have my blog featured today on her blog. Want to know why I blog? Check it out. Thanks, BCMom!

Source: Who’s That Blogger? JP McLean

Posted in Interviews, The Gift Legacy | 7 Comments