Desert Camping, Hot Love

While camping in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, I noticed a woman sitting alone in a van parked near the beach. I never saw her get out of her vehicle. She sat in the driver’s seat most of the time, listening to audio tapes and chain smoking cigarettes.

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The beach was beautiful, the sun shone every day, the water was clear and inviting, the place was a paradise. Why would she not get out and inhale that fresh air, go for a walk or a swim, or enjoy this little bit of heaven? I certainly did.

Anneli 4

It puzzled me and I wondered what her story was. Her plates said San Diego. I mulled over many scenarios. Why was she alone? Why did she never get out of her van? Was she trying to kill herself with the first and secondhand smoke in the enclosed vehicle?

The seeds  of a novel were germinating in my head. A California girl comes to Baja alone. But why? I would make her health-minded, young, and beautiful. Yes, the character was taking shape in my head.

palapa 2

She would need to find a love interest, but who would be down here on his own and why? Men come to Baja alone, looking for … something ….

Each of the characters had good reasons for being on the run, but would that interfere with them starting a new relationship? What if the attraction was so strong, they couldn’t resist?


But what if their past troubles are coming after them? Will the new lovers stick together? Will they panic, split, and run to escape their pursuers? And what about that drug runner who is out for revenge for a slight on the road?

sunset at La Perla

Life could be so perfect, if only those nasty people from their past weren’t coming after them.

For a gripping story of love and suspense wrapped up in a Baja adventure, why not spend a big $2.99 and download Orion’s Gift from or today?

Cover design for Orion’s Gift is by Anita B. Carroll. Thank you, Anita for a great cover image. You can contact Anita at


When the Sun Was Mine

The City of Victoria may have distracted author Darlene Jones in my last post, but she has managed to publish an amazing novel just the same. I have read this book and would recommend it to young and old. Here is Darlene Jones to tell us about her latest novel, When the Sun Was Mine.


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When the Sun Was Mine

Review comments

“Expertly written, suspenseful, the mystery grips you from the first page.”

“… a surprising, entirely satisfying beginning.”

“… moments of true poetic beauty as a delicate, unusual friendship develops between a young girl (Brit) and an old lady(Flo).”

“I couldn’t put it down and towards the end I was sobbing.  Good thing I wasn’t wearing any make-up.”

“Alzheimer’s is such a fearsome disease, but Jones’ story doesn’t live there.”
“… makes its mark in terms of social commentary on this disease.”

“…when you have people willing to care, even those newly in your life, the most dreadful of situations can still touch your heart and leave you as the reader with possibility rather than loss.” 


Flo:      I was an inmate in this hellhole they charmingly called a nursing home. Then Brit climbed in my window. She was just a kid. How could she possibly help me?

Brit:      I should have been in college, not working in this dump. But then I never would have met Flo. She had Alzheimer’s. They said she never talked, but she talked to me.

Brought together by circumstance, an old lady and a young girl develop an unlikely friendship. Each has a dream they long to fulfill, but first Brit is determined to solve the mystery of Flo.


Poor little Miss Wright. Second time she comes into my room and once again she gets the shock of her life. Appreciated her concern for me, but really what could she do? I gave her a little wave as she eyed the two nurses bearing down on me and then slipped out the door behind Matthews.

All I wanted now was a long hot shower and something to eat. I’d missed breakfast of course and there likely wasn’t much left from lunch, but maybe I could scrounge something. I ignored the two nurses who had come in. One took my arm to help me to the bathroom. I shook her off and slammed the door in her face. Not fair to take my anger out on them. They hadn’t strapped me down, but then they hadn’t come to check on me all morning either.

By the time I finished my shower and put on my jeans, M*A*S*H* T-shirt, and thongs, oops, I mean flip-flops, Curly and Mo had remade my bed. The room still stank. I opened the window to let in some air. The incinerator wasn’t spewing forth at the moment so maybe my room would smell decent when I got back. I squirted some Chanel #5 on my neck and wrists and then a couple of sprays around the room. Terrible waste really, but I thought it might help.

I stepped out into the hallway and took a deep breath. Big mistake. The air didn’t smell a hell of a lot better than in my room. The omnipresent hospital odor mixed with the unique scent of old people. Not fair that everything went to pot as we aged. Wrinkles, creaky bones, flaccid muscles, droopy skin, and the sour fragrance of decay.

Just the other day, some little kid was in the visitor lounge with Esther. “Grandma, you smell funny,” he said, when his mother urged him to hug the old lady. Kid refused and kicked up a fuss. Couldn’t really blame him. At least his mother had the smarts to back off.

Yes, we were allowed out of our rooms during the day, the idea being that we could entertain each other and not burden the staff. Heaven forbid they should have to exert themselves for us. I went to the dining room and found a couple of slices of bread to pop in the toaster, and a hard-boiled egg. I poured a glass of watery orange drink made from powder like that horrible Tang stuff they sent us when we were overseas years ago, and smeared my toast with something that was supposed be butter. It tasted okay if you held your nose. Lord knows, I’d eaten a lot worse in my lifetime. Millet laced with grains of sand. I laughed when I remembered seeing the goats foraging in the mortar and pestle that held our food. I brushed toast crumbs off my hands and had to admit I felt better after eating.

I wandered over to the rec room and a sorry excuse it was. A few rickety tables and battered folding metal chairs, which made me think of France with all those sidewalk cafes, the parks, the little wrought iron tables, Michel. Now there was a lover extraordinaire, lived up to the romantic Frenchman reputation; kind and thoughtful and gentle, but a lion in bed. I closed my eyes and lived it again. Ah, those were the days.

Then I made the mistake of opening my eyes. Worn linoleum floors. One tiny window. I didn’t bother looking out. I already knew it was the same dismal view as from my room. Decrepit war-time houses across the street, scrubby grass that passed for lawns, the odd scrawny tree, no flowers to speak of, although one house had a couple of hanging pots that looked pretty, the riot of color a sight for sore eyes. Battered bikes lay scattered in the yards, abandoned haphazardly when the kids got home from school. Wrecks of cars parked in front of some of the houses. Was a wonder any of them still worked, but they did. I’d watched the people from my window when I couldn’t sleep: kids, parents, going about their business, work, school, with a few drug deals thrown in for good measure. Dreary little houses, dreary little lives. Bet all they did was watch the boob tube, guzzle beer, and smoke pot. Bah. Humbug.

We never got to go outside. Never. I’m sure prisoners were better treated. Didn’t they always have an exercise yard or was that just the movie image? A trip to a park or the mall would be nice, or the movies. Not that Hollywood was producing much good stuff these days, but still … just to get out.

Everything about Happy Hearts so conducive to enjoying oneself. I counted five people in the rec room sitting, staring at the floor. A sixth was watching television on mute alternately nodding and shaking her head at the screen.

Old Artie, and I mean old, ninety-nine and still toddling along, spent most of each day sitting at the chessboard. Never had any visitors or anyone to play with. I took pity on him, sat down, and offered to play a match. He proved to be a more challenging opponent than I expected, but I won. Took my mind off the Internet dilemma for a bit. I’d have to lie low for a couple of days, but then what?

I roamed the halls looking for Brittany and found her with a large screwdriver in her hand.

“What are you going to do with that?”

“I couldn’t open your window this morning. It’s stuck.”

Stuck? I burst out laughing. This younger generation never ceased to amaze with their ignorance. The chit had obviously never seen wooden windows before and didn’t know she had to turn the lock thingy at the top of the frame before she could slide the window up.

The girl bristled. “What’s so damn funny?”

“Whoa, did you just use a bad word?”

She blushed. Must have grown up in a staid household, I thought. Much like mine. The words in my head stopped me cold. I squeezed my eyes tight and fought to remember, but nothing came to me. I felt tears forming at the corners of my eyes. To have a glimpse, just one little glimpse of my mother. That’s all I asked. Did I have pictures of her? If so, where were they? Would I recognize her or would someone have to point her out to me? And my dad? What was he like?

That’s the worst thing about this Alzheimer’s business. Thoughts pop in and out of your head until you don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. They taunt you with snippets of your life before, but there’s never enough to grasp a whole memory or maybe there is on some days and you just don’t remember.

“Is your window always locked?” Brittany asked.

Her voice jolted me back to the present. “No, why?”

“Not even at night?”

“I like to leave it open all the time for fresh air, if the incinerator’s not rumbling that is.”

“Okay then.”

I watched her amble down the hallway toward the caretaker’s office swinging the screwdriver and humming, “a merry tune to toot, he knows a song will move the job along.” Hated that movie. Maudlin nonsense.


You can download this excellent ebook now:

NEW RELEASE –  limited time introductory offer 0.99

Free Coastal Drama


eBOOK [1]

Adventure, drama, suspense, and a trip up the coast of British Columbia — If you have not read The Wind Weeps, grab your free digital copy now on amazon or on smashwords. Follow it up with the conclusion to Andrea’s story in Reckoning Tide. Here is a sample of the beginning of Reckoning Tide.


You’re mine!

To have,

To hold,

No matter how hard.

You’re mine!

Give me honour,


And do as you’re told.

You’re mine!

In sickness,

My sickness,

Comes hell.

You’re mine!

This day forward,

’Til death,

Do us part.

Chapter 1

“Nurse!” I screamed. “Nurse, come back!” Robert’s smile vanished. He advanced and tossed the three orchids onto the foot of my bed.

I twisted around grasping for the cord with the call button. “Get away from me!” I hit the button frantically.

Robert lunged at me. “No, Andrea. Don’t!” He ripped the cord away from me. I pulled my fist back to punch him, but he was quick and caught my wrist in an iron grip. His eyes narrowed into slits.

“Nurse!” I yelled again. He clamped a hand over my mouth. Flashbacks of what that hard hand had done to me went through my mind. I bit down on his fingers, my terror lending me extra strength.

“Arrrgh! You bitch!” Robert’s eyes grew wide. He stared at me with a glassy look that I remembered too well. He drew his arm across his chest to backhand me, but dropped it when the nurse appeared.

“What’s going on here?” the nurse demanded. Margaret was a hefty woman. She filled most of the doorway as she stood with her hands on her hips. “Sir! Come away from the bed.”

“She bit me!” he said, unable to keep the whine out of his voice. “I brought her flowers—orchids, her favourite kind—and she bit me!”

I gasped at his outrageous boldfaced ploy, twisting the truth. “He tried to kill me. Don’t let him near me. He’s the one I told you about.”

“Now, Andrea.” Robert’s voice, silky smooth, sent ripples of terror up my spine. “You know that’s not true.” He turned to the nurse and slowly shook his head. “I’m her husband. You see, she’s had quite a shock. We had an argument and she set fire to our cabin and ran away when she thought I had died in the fire. I guess she’s surprised to see that I’m still alive.”

The nerve of him! I tried to get out of bed. “No! No-no-no!” I had to get the nurse to believe me. “He’s twisting it all around. He tried to kill me.”

The nurse was quick to put her hand out. “Stay in bed, Andrea.” She looked flustered and tried to calm us both. But no wonder she was confused. The whole situation was so bizarre. She looked from Robert to me and back to Robert again.

Would she side with Robert?

“Sir,” she said, “would you mind going to the waiting room down the hall? I’m sure the RCMP would like to speak with you, too. They’ll be here soon to interview Andrea.”

Robert raised his chin and gave me a smirk. “That was fast,” he said. “We’ll soon get to the bottom of the situation then.”

The nurse escorted him out the door. “We called them this morning when she woke up,” I heard her say as they walked down the hall.

The nurse had explained to me earlier that the police have to make a report in cases where there has been violence, especially since a gun was found in my fanny pack. The gun I pointed at him last week. Should have pulled the damn trigger.


You will find paperback and digital versions of Reckoning Tide on amazon outlets and on (for e-readers other than Kindle). Just click on the links:

For more about Anneli Purchase and her books, visit her at

Book cover design by Anita B. Carroll.

Think You’re Done? What about the Extras?

I’ve seen very little written about the “front matter” of a book. It’s not enough to slave for months (sometimes years) to write a book. Just when you think you’re in the clear, the book has been copy-edited and is clean, clean clean (if not, contact Anneli Purchase), and will be published soon, you realize you have to face all the writing for the front matter of the book – the part before the story begins.

You need to have a title picked out. That in itself can be a nightmare. You may think you’ve got the perfect title thought out and then you type it into the search space on amazon only to find there are already 18 other books listed by the same title. Back to the drawing board.

Then there is the matter of copyright. That is the least difficult. Once you tell the world that the following is your work and yours alone, your work is considered your own. In Canada you send  the information about your book (title, number of pages, subject area, date of publication, etc.) to Library and Archives Canada, and you will receive the exact information that is to appear on the copyright page, including an ISBN.

Next, the dedication of your book. Who would be flattered to have your work dedicated to them? Who is deserving of the honour of being named  in the front matter of your magnum opus? 

Then come the acknowledgements. Very important! Don’t forget to thank those lovely people who were your main support throughout the struggle of writing this wonderful book, those “without whom this book would never have been written.” But maybe you can think of some more original way to say it.

Unless you have a prologue, the front matter is basically done, but there is one more headache waiting for you. Two actually. You need to come up with a cover description – a paragraph telling the reader what your book is about. The trick will be to make them want to take the book home and read it. You will also need to make a shortened version of this enticing description for advertising purposes, in some cases for a flap jacket, or maybe next to the book cover image on the amazon page where your book is for sale.

And of course this all assumes that you have a cover image for your book already prepared. (If not, call Anita B. Carroll.)

When all is done, you can relax at last. Ha, ha. Just kidding! That is when the work begins. This is the part most authors would love to do without – the marketing. But whole books have been written on that subject alone and I won’t try to tackle it in this post.

Confessions of a Graphic Designer


Today, I would like to welcome my guest, Anita B. Carroll.

She is a designer of book covers and has some great tips for authors.

Anita has offered to share:

12 things every author should know when working with a book cover designer

1. Should you hire a professional to design your cover and what about the cost?

The simple answer is, yes absolutely!  I know several self-published authors who design their own covers.  Some do it because they want to, and others because they simply can’t afford to hire a professional.

My advice is do what you do best, and leave the rest to the professionals. Ask yourself  objectively; Does this cover represent my story?   Does the cover represent my identity as an author? Does it look professional?

Your book cover is a representation of your work as an author.   It is part of your brand identity.  Most readers will see the cover before having the chance to read an excerpt from the book.  If it doesn’t look like the author put much effort into the presentation, most likely the potential reader will just gloss over it.  You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.Steve Forbes

Learn more about brand identity and why you really need it.

What about the cost? Many designers have flexible pricing.  Even some who are just starting out can still create awesome works for you.  So please, don’t assume you can’t afford it.  Do some research.

Don’t let the assumption of high cost discourage you.  Every project is different and the price will reflect this. Just send the designer an email and ask what they would charge for your project.

Every designer works differently and charges differently.  I definitely recommend using a designer that charges per project, since you can’t really be sure that the designer uses the hours they give you, and it can get rather costly, quickly.  I can spend anything from 5 hours to a month on a cover.  This is why I charge per project, and don’t offer an hourly rate.  Every project is different and I try to be as flexible as possible when proposing a quote.  I always take into consideration the author’s budget and timeline.

Good quality designs will cost from US $50+/hr and up. Be sure you look over the details and have a mutual agreement as to what the fee includes. A base fee of US $125+ for a project is to be expected.  I have seen good quality pre-made book cover offerings as low as US $149.   Also, a full-blown custom cover design can run between US $250 and US $2000. As you can see the range is quite large.  More commonly, a custom cover is around US $400 to $800.

2. Define YOUR style to find the RIGHT designer for YOUR project.

Decide what type of design and art you envision to represent your story.  In graphic design there are many types of designers, just as there are many specialties within the medical field.  If you are looking for illustrations, i.e. hand drawings, your best bet would be to find an illustrator with this type of work in their portfolio.  However, if you want to use a photo for your cover, a digital art manipulation artist, such as myself, is what you are looking for.


 Before and After – Photo Digital Art Manipulation: Anita B. Carroll.

3.  Assess the designer’s quality of work

Finding a designer that has the style you are looking for is half the battle, and equally crucial is assessing the designer’s work prior to hiring them for your project.  Always ask for a sample of their previous work.  Any experienced designer will welcome this request.  When a client contacts me, even if they don’t request to see my portfolio, I will offer it.  It is very important to me that I meet their expectations up front and that my design style is what the author is looking for.   I need to be certain that you are looking for something that I can deliver, or it can end up being a waste of time for both of us.


Graphic Design by Anita B. Carroll.

4.  Look outside the box

So, you have defined the design style for your cover and have researched several cover artists, but perhaps just can’t seem to find that RIGHT cover designer?  Think outside the box by keeping an open mind.  Don’t judge a designer’s portfolio by how many book covers they have done in the past.  Instead analyze how the designer uses typography within their design work, and their layout capabilities.  This speaks volumes of their skill set as a graphic designer.


 Graphic Design by Anita B. Carroll.

5. Understand the EFFECT of TYPOGRAPHY

It might be that you hire an illustrator to do a drawing, and are tempted to just add the text yourself.  If you have a good understanding of typography, I say go for it.  However, not everyone does.  Let’s  take a look at the “before and after” of a book cover I was invited to review some months ago. This first image displays the book cover with the author’s own typography.


The before picture of book cover before I “tweaked” it. -Anita

My initial thought was  that the typography felt weak, and I could not wait to tweak the cover. However, I first needed to be in the mindset of the author.  I had to really understand what he was going for and find out what kind of story this was.  So, I read the first 30-40 pages of the novel.   After reading the pages, not only did I know what type of story it was, but I really understood why he chose to use this specific cover art.

Here is what the cover looks like today, after I implemented my typography:


Welcome to the FIGHT: Silent Wars
Author: Glen Romero
eBook – Kindle Edition

In the seven months prior to the tweak, the author had no sales on his novel.  In the six months after I tweaked the cover, he has had 115 sales. How awesome is that!?   It’s pretty amazing how the typography can have such an impact.

 6.  Not ALL designers are ALIKE. Find a designer who is a team player

In the beginning of the design process, which I call the “first date” stage, if you have something specific in mind for your cover design, but the designer seems to resist every suggestion you make, this is a red flag, and should tell you that you might want to look for another designer before you are stuck with a cover you don’t want.  Take your time and do some good research, BEFORE you say, “Yes, let’s do it!”

A GREAT designer understands that successful cover art concepts are best reached when working closely with the author.

The cover design should meet your vision and be a true representation of the novel.  The designer is an instrument in reaching that goal.—Anita B. Carroll,

7.  Trust the designer. Keep an open mind. Welcome new ideas. 

It is equally important for the author to welcome new ideas.  Remember, it’s all about teamwork. Sometimes I find, after reading through my client’s wish list, that I might not have a clear understanding of what they are looking for, which is why I always ask to read the first 30-40 pages.  Then, I feel inspired and understand the emotion the author is going for.The story often tells me the direction to take in the design.  It’s quite the balancing act.  If you, as the author, really want a specific object on your cover, it is very important to communicate this to your designer, so they know to focus on that.


“B R O K E N Heart series” Graphic Design by Anita B. Carroll –

8.  Understanding the design process

When the time comes to begin discussing the details of your cover concept, if you have a strong opinion about what you want, offer as much information as possible.  Provide links and information that you think will help explain your vision.  This will really help the designer understand what you are looking for.

My number one goal is always to meet my client’s needs by creating a design they will feel both proud of and excited about to share with the world.—Anita B. Carroll,

When working with a designer, from the start, be very up front about what you are looking for.  Avoid changing the original specs once the design process has begun.  If you originally asked for a pink elephant but then later, after the designer has started working, you decide you want it to be a pink house instead, this will only lead to frustration for the designer.  Colors are easy to change.  However, when the art takes a whole new direction, the artist has to start all over.  So be sure to inform the designer if you are unsure whether or not you want a house or an elephant, and see what they can come up with.

9.  Don’t rush the designer

In today’s competitive market, we all want everything yesterday. However, when the time has arrived to design the cover to your book, think about this.You have spent months, maybe even years, to write the story.  Does it make much sense to rush the cover design?  Does it make sense to rush THE item that FIRST interacts with your potential readers?  Does it make sense to rush the item that represents your work?

When it comes to design, it is what’s in the details, that matters. 

To allow a designer to reach his or her full potential and become inspired, it is important to give them creative freedom, and as much time to create your cover as possible. 

Don’t wait until the last-minute.—Anita B. Carroll,

anitacarroll_below9Designed with Creative Freedom by Anita B. Carroll.

10.  Using stock photography vs original photography work

In the last year, I have noticed an emerging trend where highly digitally manipulated photo covers are becoming a popular choice when choosing the cover art.  It has reached or surpassed the level of popularity of graphic design and illustrations.  It is important to know that stock photos can be mass-produced, and are available to everyone and anyone.  Most stock photography websites have a stipulation when purchasing and using a photo for a book cover.  Some sites allow you to sell up to 250 000 or 499 999 copies before you have to purchase a new license.  This is the same as purchasing the stock photo a second time—just something to keep in mind.


“P R O M I S E S” Stock Photo.  Cover Design: Anita B. Carroll –

With regard to using original photography work, if you are lucky enough to find an artist who is also a photographer, and offers their photography for cover art purposes, you can be assured that the photo will be used for your book only.  The cost of the photo may be a bit higher than a stock photo, but if you want one-of-a-kind cover art, it comes with a price.  You might be able to negotiate a lower price if you allow the artist to use the photo in other areas, just not for a book cover.


 “P E B B E L E D Heart” (Anita B. Carroll Photography –

11.  Recognizing what’s best for the novel

Let’s say your cover artist is deeply submerged in the design process, and the concept you both agreed on has become a reality.  And perhaps, the cover has been completed, finalized, and approved by you.  You are completely satisfied, and have begun to advertise it.  Then, what if, your cover artist emails you, maybe with the subject line “Don’t freak but …”  You are probably thinking, “Oh-oh, what is wrong?”  In this case, the cover designer proposed to change direction of the concept entirely, and go with something new and different.  To support the proposal, the designer had done thorough research, and found that maybe this new concept would not only be a better fit, but also be keeping up with the newer trends we see in cover design these days.

As you can imagine, at this late stage of development, this was not an easy decision for the designer to make.  However, she placed the needs of the novel first.   This true story has a happy ending.  My wonderful author client, (yes, I am the designer in this story) trusted me, and she was open to the idea and willing to give me the opportunity to design the new concept. Although, she didn’t think anything could persuade her to switch the existing cover design.  Today, I am so incredibly glad I took the risk, and proposed we head in a new direction.

After all, it’s all about the story, it should always direct the concept.—Anita B. Carroll,

The result?  My author client really liked the new cover design, and stated “it must be the cover… and so it shall.”

The cover that almost didn’t happen:


 Release date November 2013  “Kelly and the Angel” by Author Kelly Ilebode.
Cover Design: Anita B. Carroll – anita

12.  A designer’s big secret

For an artist, “The moment we all wait for is the revealing of our work.”  For me it is such a personal journey. I always put my heart and soul into the creative process, completely submerging myself into your story.  For days, and weeks I will be thinking about your book, dreaming about your book. It really never leaves my mind.   So, presenting the final work is actually a bit scary.  Not knowing whether the author will love the design or hate it can be quite an emotional process.  I have so much fun creating, and as I have been known to say: THIS. IS. THE. BEST reward I could ask for:

Anita – I have no words for this, but I will try…  When you first told me that you were thinking of changing the cover I froze a bit and thought that there would be nothing that you could have done that could have swayed me from changing….Well, I was wrong….THIS IS STUNNING!!!!  Love it and it must be my new cover.—Kelly Ilebode, Author –

… I truly have the best job!

In summary, for me designing is a PASSION. 

For most artists, creating art is not a choice we make. It finds us.  We have a need to create, and as an author, looking for a cover artist, it may comfort you to know that we always try to design to the best of our capabilities.

I love what I do.  Entering the world of story telling has allowed me creative freedom when designing.  I simply can’t imagine doing anything else. – Anita B. Carroll


To connect with Anita and see more of her work, check out:


Portfolio Website:

Anita B. Carroll is a visual design consultant and founder of, supporting authors with all their business brand identity design needs, and offering a FRESH take on book cover design.  Anita has over 17 years of experience within the visual design field, starting out managing creative initiatives for Fortune 500 Businesses in Silicon Valley, California.  She is specialized in Heuristic Evaluation, User Interface and Experience Design with focus on online usability testing, a valuable skill when designing book covers for the rapidly growing digital market.  Anita is also an avid reader. Discovering book cover design has provided the opportunity to combine her works in photography and graphic design skills.  In her free time, you might spot her at one of the U. S. Cape beaches, biking the National Sea Shore trails, or photographing the gorgeous coastline and capturing everlasting moments with her beach portrait photography services.