Posted by Charlotte Kirton on 23rd December 2016
Hello all! HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the US—more specifically, from the Southern California area where I live. I mention that because I thought it might be fun to give you all a fun little peek into our idea of what the “holidays” mean around here.
Some context: I was born, raised, and still live in Orange County, California. Yes, that “OC”, of those TV shows. So let me start off by saying not everyone who lives here is like any of those people—LOL! I will stop just short of saying I’ve definitely met a few of those types, however...and it’s always a verrrry interesting experience!
I was taught from an early age to be super grateful for where I live, however, and no other time of the year is that more prevalent than at the holidays. We have some pretty damn cool things unique to our “land” that make the Christmas season a very special—and unique!—time of year.
Here are a few of my favorites:
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS OVERLAY ON THE HAUNTED MANSION AT DISNEYLAND: If you’ve been to a Disney theme park at the holidays, you know it’s a special experience simply because of the extra decorations and entertainment. (Mr. Payne is actually a Main Street Caroler during many seasons!) But the Anaheim park offers a very special experience for its guests, beginning in mid-October. The Haunted Mansion attraction is given a complete “overlay” to turn it into Jack Skellington’s realm for a few months! Absolutely everything is changed about the ride, from the décor and props to the voice-over and the music (is any music composer more cool than Danny Elfman?), to turn it into an immersive experience a la The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s so cool!
COLD WEATHER CLOTHES! Okay, yeah…so “cold” to me is 60F (15.5C). Go ahead. Let the jibes fly. I still love to rock my sweaters, knit caps, and hand warmers. This set was a gift from a fan—and I love it!
THE MISSION INN AND BALBOA PARK BECOME SIGHTS YOU CAN SEE FROM SPACE: The Mission Inn in Riverside, built in 1876, is an icon in So-Cal—especially at the holidays. The same is true a little farther south in San Diego, home of historic Balboa Park. Both locales are incredible on a day-by-day basis, but at the holidays their staffs add millions of holiday lights, turning them into a must-do on any holiday list here.
SNOW…AND WAVES! Okay, we get some. Really, we do. But if you drive, like, for an hour, then get super lucky and close your eyes, you can imagine that the handful of slushy stuff in your hand is actually worth rolling into a ball and lobbing at someone’s head. Oh, and while you’re at it…you can drive back down the hill and make it to the beach in time to catch a few waves before sunset.
WHALES! Winter is the time of year when the California grey whales use the US west coast as their super highway to Mexico’s warmer waters, meaning you can see entire pods in their glory, swimming along. There are usually dolphins along for the ride, too—and one year, a boat I was on even saw a couple of orcas! It’s truly a cool experience.
Thanks so much for letting me stop by and talk about how we “do the holidays”, So-Cal style! FYI, there is A LOT more Southern California love in the SECRETS OF STONE series, written by Victoria Blue and myself, and available to you through Totally Bound. We hope you’ll check out the books!
USA Today bestselling romance author Angel Payne has been reading and writing her entire life, though her love for romances began in junior high, when writing with friends on “swap stories” they’d trade between classes. Needless to say, those stories involved lots of angst, groping, drama, and French kissing.
She began getting a paycheck for her writing in her twenties, writing record reviews for a Beverly Hills-based dance music magazine. Some years, various entertainment industry gigs, and a number of years in the hospitality industry later, Angel returned to the thing she loves the most: creating character-based romantic fiction. Along the way, she also graduated with two degrees from Chapman University in Southern California, taking departmental honors for English, before writing five historical romances for Kensington and Bantam/Doubleday/Dell.
Angel found a true home in writing contemporary-based romances that feature high heat and high concepts, focusing on memorable alpha men and the women who tame them. She has numerous book series to her credit, including the Secrets of Stone series (with Victoria Blue).
Angel still lives in Southern California, where she is married to her soulmate and lives on a street that looks like Brigadoon, with their awesome daughter and Lady Claire, the dog with impeccable manners. When not writing, she enjoys reading, pop culture, alt rock, cute shoes, enjoying the outdoors, and being a gym rat.
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