#MustVisitMonday with Julie Particka


I love to travel. I mean love to travel. But, I have to admit, I love to travel in a way that gives a lot of people the hives. Like Alexa in Adventures in Online Dating, my preferred travel partners happen to be my kids.


Seriously, I’ve done everything from Disneyworld (many times) to Hawaii to Italy to ghost-hunting through our home state of Michigan with my children, and they make every trip an adventure.



Our biggest problem is figuring out where to go. Disneyworld used to be the “big-trip” (ie—trips on years where I’ve saved up extra money) default, but as they’ve gotten older, that’s faded. So every year, we sit down and have a conversation about where to go. And then we have another. And another. Sometimes this is easy (see the ghost-hunting trip) and others not so much. We are the biggest group of indecisives ever.


This year, however, as we were throwing around “big-trip” ideas, The Boy (17) announced that University of Southern California is on his short list for colleges. That was all it took, because if he’s thinking about going that far away, I want to make absolutely sure he loves it out there. So, our trip to California was born on the back of taking a college tour.



Now, this would seem easy enough. Book a flight to LA, do the tour, see some stuff, fly home. But… we live in Michigan. California is a big trip. So we aren’t just doing LA. Oh no. Because of our love of weird stuff, we have to go tour the Winchester Mystery House, which means we’re starting our trip in San Francisco.



We are flying out bright and early on a Tuesday morning, and Tuesday afternoon, we’ll be at the Winchester. Wednesday, we’re going to do a whirlwind visit of San Francisco (luckily, the only other big thing the kids really wanted to see was Alcatraz, so the rest of the day is whatever we see, we see. (NOTE: if you are traveling to see Alcatraz, buy your tickets in advance as they apparently sell out most tours.) Thursday morning, we fly out to LA.



Did I mention that the kids and I are always on the go on our trips?


Luckily, once we get to LA, things will be a little more relaxed. The two big things we’re working around are the USC tour and going to see my friend Greg’s new play at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I am ridiculously excited about that second one. Greg and I have been friends for like twenty years and I’ve never gotten to see one of his plays. So, I’m more than a little squeeeeeee about seeing Tattered Capes.



But my key thing for traveling with kids (especially as they get older) is to let them help make decisions, which means asking what they want to do most. The only other big things on their list were going to Universal Studios (mainly for Harry Potter world) and doing “the Hollywood stuff” (Walk of Fame, etc). But then Mini-me (14), bless her beautiful little goth heart, found an awesome thing on Pinterest or Tumblr and basically said “uh, we need this in our lives”… So, yeah, we’ll also be hitting the Museum of Death on our trip.



My friend Janelle, who offered to play chauffeur around LA for us added the suggestions of the beach and Santa Monica Pier. (I jumped at hitting the pier mainly because some major plot points in Blackmailed by the Hero happened there.) But after that, we’re back in whatever we see mode because I’m pretty sure that’s going to fill out our time in LA.



Then after eight days in California running ourselves ragged, we will board a plane to come home. I’m not going to lie—I’m likely to spend a large part of this trip trying not to think about my son potentially going across the country to go to college in a year and change. Because at the end of the day, while the trip is because of USC, it’s not about USC. It’s about spending time running around with my two favorite people in the world. And how could I not enjoy every second of that?


Grab Adventures in Online Dating by Julie Particka for only 99¢!

For Alexa McIntyre, the answer to everything comes down to numbers. Three sons. One divorce. One great life…except her boys are getting older and they really need a man around. Enter the number twenty, as in after twenty minutes with someone she knows whether or not she wants them in her life. So, she hatches a plan to meet any man who remotely strikes her interest—for a twenty-minute date at her favorite coffee shop. It’s the perfect way to find her perfect match in the most efficient way possible.

Too bad coffee shop owner Marshall Calloway isn’t keen on her using his shop as her speed-dating zone, especially since she’s made it clear he’s too young to be a contender. But against her better judgement, Alexa finds herself drawn to Marshall in ways she can’t quantify. There’s no easy answer, and once the kids become involved, her well-ordered world threatens to fall apart—twenty minutes at a time.







Julie Particka was told to get serious about her future in Junior High. Several years after getting a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, she realized being serious was over-rated and went back to her first love–writing. Now rather than spending her days in the drudgery of the lab or teaching science to high school students, she disappears into worlds of her own creation where monsters sometimes roam, but true love still conquers all. She can most often be located in the Detroit area with her favorite minions (the ones who know her as Mom) where she is currently hatching a plot for world domination. It involves cookies for everyone, so she’s pretty sure there’s no way it can fail…except the minions keep eating the cookies.


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