Adieu

THIS SEEMS A TERRIBLE THING TO DO, SINCE I believe in forever pets, but I am saying good bye to my sweet Girls.  I did find them a home, but their new owner needs to enlarge what they already have to make room for all of them.  It will be awhile before they are welcomed into their new surroundings.  So, the bittersweet knowledge that I will be losing my Girls soon is mixed with knowing they will go to a family that loves them — and frees me from the pains of hauling heavy feed bags, watering feeders, and the body-stressing cleaning up jobs around the coop.

I know they will be treated well.

I will have to go to the farmer’s market to get my eggs.  And my friends will have to find another source for their fresh eggs…I’ve spoiled them–they were very sad to hear I was giving them up, but thankfully, understood my needs.

Until they must leave, I am thoroughly enjoying the warm fresh eggs, the soothing effects (at least for me) of their clucking, ‘boasting’ (um..cackling when they’ve laid an egg), and other goofy antics.  These things, I will certainly miss.

And, very soon, my yard will be all too quiet.

 

Painterly Side Arises

I’M BETTING THERE ARE SOME OF YOU that are tired of hearing about my upcoming book.  Listening to me tooting my own horn can get tiring — the excitement of it all makes it a challenge to refrain from it…sorry.  So, for you, I have decided to dwell on my painterly side.

I take classes (recently, more sporadically than usual because of the book) to spur on my painterly creative bend.  This last weekend, I chose to spend time inside, learning the Japanese art of carving blocks of wood and inking them up to make prints.  It is like — yet unlike — carving and printing with a linoleum block.  Linoleum blocks are easier to carve and can be inked up in multiple colors all at one time; but like the wood blocks, the printing method is similar (using a hand-held baren to press the ink into the paper).  There is a discipline…an order in which everything is done.  A name for everything…the tools, the materials, the styles of resulting prints, inking one color at a time (so, multiple blocks required for one final print).  I suppose the western printing methods have their own specifics to follow, but this seems a bit more exacting.  For a ‘lazy’ artist, this may not be the best avenue…I’m still trying to decide if this is going to be something I want to dedicate time and energy towards, since I would classify myself somewhat lazy.  Despite that fact, it may be that this would be a good route to go — to invest the time to acquire some important preciseness to my art.

In the past, I have thought of myself as “a ‘Jack’ (or should that be ‘Jill’) of all trades and master of none” — even in writing.  But now, I wonder.  I think, for me, the most important factor is to enjoy whatever I am doing, no matter what I’ve decided to create.  To love what I’m doing; then, that love translates into what the final outcome is.  My carpentry leaves a lot to be desired (even those that know the basics would probably cringe or laugh at how I achieved my end results), but function is far more important than perfection — my chickens don’t care in my angle cuts are non-existent — the cage is sturdy and keeps them safely inside and wild critters outside, plus, it was fun to build!

As for my two main creative outlets: sometimes it’s a pile of colors or words on paper that seem to make no sense, sometimes it turns out amazing, bringing the viewer in, smiling, for a closer inspection.  But each and every time, there is a lesson learned — whether ways to improve my creation — or me as a person.   That, I love.  To me, that’s the reason I do the things I do — loving to do it & the lessons I learn from it.

This workshop on Japanese Woodcut techniques was an amazing adventure in patience, experimentation, stepping outside of my safe little ‘box’, perseverance and working on my listening skills.  I discovered lessons and rewards in all areas.  My final critique of my own work:  loved what I was doing — playing with wood and sharp tools but need more patience, need to start at mastering simple designs & shapes before progressing to more complex projects, no shortcuts, (did I mention more patience?)…but I didn’t do too bad, considering I chose a rather complicated design for my skill level.

‘Showing off’ any of these skill sets to others is a new thing for me — maybe about a year old — and one I am just now learning how to master…still a ‘Jill’ here.  The learning curve, even for this, is steep.  First of all, getting past the embarrassment of thinking my work is worthy of allowing others to view it.  That’s a biggie.  Then to realize it is good enough to actually bring in some money from it — that, I’m still getting used to, but enjoying the idea.  I’m having fun with the exhibitions (and the process I’m going through to get my book ready).  And, yes, I have sold a piece.  Some would call that the final validation that their work has truly ‘arrived’… for me, I try to not allow it to effect how I work — I want to retain the fun, the love of the act of creating.  I don’t think I will covet that validation as some do.

I will certainly appreciate and be grateful to those that appreciate my body of works.  Whether sales flourish or flounder, I will continue to dive into both my writerly and painterly activities with all the gusto I’ve had in the past because I love what I’m doing.  No matter what. There.  I said it.

And, in case I haven’t said it — I want to thank each and every one of you that take the time to read and/or follow my blogs, bother to check out and/or Like my endeavors at the Facebook page — you have plenty on your plate already, or even considered purchasing my soon-to-be-released book (oops…I did mention it, didn’t I–sorry).  So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Have a blessed day, friends.

Adventures

HMMM…I POSTED A SHORT GREETING directed at my friends this morning on my personal Facebook page that got me to thinking…”May your day be blessed with adventure (of any kind) and joy.”  So many people have such a narrow definition when they think of “adventure”, which is why I added the parenthesis, but I don’t think that really covers it or adequately explains what I was trying to imply.

Perhaps it is because I have encountered so many different types of adventures (and some ‘misadventures’ also) that my definition has expanded.  I decided I needed to look it up…

The dictionary’s very first definition is very precise, and not what I expected — at least not completely:

adventure |adˈven ch ər; əd-|
noun
an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

Typically hazardous?  Really?  Reading on:

daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm.

Okay, so looking further (ever noticed that once you look up one word, you need to look up others?), enterprise is defined as a project or undertaking, typically one that is difficult or requires effort.

There we go.  Hazardous, difficult or requiring effort.  I would not think of adventure as requiring any of this.  But then, I’ve never been typical, so I’ll go with the very first part of the definition:  unusual and exciting; daring and exciting…

As far as I’m concerned, anything that takes you out of your ‘box’, out of the ordinary, everyday routine we frequently find ourselves in (and are entirely too comfortable with to change) can be labeled an adventure.  Walking down the street and choosing to take a left turn instead of the usual right could result in a lovely adventure.  The thought of seeing different things to stimulate the mind always excites me.  I shake up my routines on a regular basis because of this — taking different routes to and from places I regularly need to visit; changing the paths I walk to make new discoveries and reacquaint myself with old landmarks.  Those are adventures.

I mentioned ‘misadventures’ — what I meant by that was…well, it’s easier to give an example:  My daughter and I were traveling in Europe by car with me as driver, she as the navigator.  Her map reading skills were good, and improved as we traveled, but even with those skills, trying to find street names — never in the same place, traversing strange (at the time) roundabouts created some serious tension in my navigator (she wanted to get it right!).  That is, until I gave her the simple explanations:  if we didn’t get lost (and we did this in nearly every city we entered–we always figured it out, eventually), these would be areas we would not otherwise discover and the nemesis called roundabouts were a delight because, if you missed your exit, you simply went around…and around…and around, until you got it right.  After that, things became much more lighthearted, more enjoyable — so much more fun, with lots of laughter.  We may have looked goofy (stupid tourists!), but we had a blast.

So, for me, an adventure is anything out of the ordinary, and even then, it could be ordinary, just not expected.  So, when I say “may your day be blessed with adventure,” I am hoping you take a tiny step out of your box to take a peek at life the way God wants you to see it, in all of its beauty and wonder.  Look at life as a child would: new, exciting, wonderful experiences.  Take in and revel in the sounds, the smells and textures of the mundane that surround you.  Enjoy life, don’t just trod through it.

Treasure your adventures today and always.  You will find your life enriched.

Done…

…WELL, ALMOST DONE.  I have edited my story, attempting to create two books out of the 66,000+ word manuscript.  It is in now the process of a professional edit at the publishers — after I bravely handed it over to my four Beta Readers to see if I’d chosen well.  My Beta Readers agreed — definitely more than one book…one specifically saying three books, and he wants to see more!  While it was in the hands of my Beta Readers, I actually came to the same conclusion.  Like minds…

I have read, re-read and still, I find this story fun, engaging, with surprises around many corners and I want more!  And more is piled up in my brain, ready to spill out onto the keyboard when I am ready to sit back down and get serious again.  But, right now, I am anxiously awaiting the return of my manuscript, which I am sure will be rife with corrections…corrections that will need rectifying very quickly if I wish to keep my October, 2013 release time frame.

In the meantime, I have been on holiday, enjoying myself…not thinking (well, not too much at least) about writing.  I have my cover art well in hand…in good hands of a wonderful artist, Michele Littlejohn-Luccketta of The Potters Hand.  Tomorrow, she will reveal her handiwork to me and I am excited to see it!  She will also take my picture for the author’s photo on the cover.  I want to keep my book and all that goes in to it as local as possible…except the publishing part.

I have yet to create much of anything artistically at the Open Ground Studios, except for the mini-workshops that are open to the public.  I’ve made origami creations, Japanese sumi-wash painting, had fun at a social night or two, gone to several exhibition openings for fellow artists and this weekend, I will participate in a workshop led by Frank Trueba, to learn how to make/create Japanese wood-cut prints and enjoy his exhibition opening.  Just so you know, most — if not all of this — is available to the public, so if you are interested, come check it out (click on the link above to find out more).

My holiday seems to be drawing to a close, as my brain is beginning to fill to overflowing with ideas for the new books in this series.  This makes me happy — yet I am clinging to this lovely feeling of holiday-time…the leisureliness of it, not wanting to get back to the grind of frantically putting to paper all the thoughts piling up in my head. But if I don’t begin to ‘release’ some of these thoughts, I feel my head may explode…

To make matters worse, my brain has the notion of taking all of my personalized stories and those stories told in the classroom over the years and weaving them into an anthology…well, perhaps an anthology series, since there are quite a few stories to be had.

But, for now, whilst keeping myself busy having fun — cramming in as much leisure time as possible — I anxiously await 7August13.  That is the promised date on which I will receive (perhaps before) my edited manuscript for correcting. It seems so far off — yet so very near!  Exciting.

The countdown has begun.

 

Chop-Chop

FUNNY HOW, WHEN YOU THREATEN your hair with a drastic cut, it suddenly starts to mind…this happens nearly every time I decide to play with my hairstyle.  The usual reason for a change is due weather, difficulty in managing the existing style — or just plain ol’ because.

I’ve had all sorts of cuts.  Short, long, some in between, permed, coloured (only once — way too high maintenance for my liking).
This last time around, my goal was to see just how long I could grow it.  That simple…no other reason.  I started short, with bangs and a perm.  It grew, and grew, with only occasional “prunings” to keep it looking nice.  Slowly, most of the perm disappeared.  All that’s left now is a curl on the last two or so inches.  I seemed to have found the ‘terminal length’–about six inches shorter than when I was in my late 20s.  It’s been over two years now. It’s not going to grow any longer.  I find that interesting…apparently, getting older means less ‘grow power’–at least for me.

I’ve enjoined the long tresses, playing with variations — all up, down, pulled back…both partially and completely.  But, my shoulders have not appreciated all the time spent brushing out tangles & playing.  I’ve been frustrated with the all-day drying (nope, not much for hair dryers & that’d be even more raised arms…shoulders would just love that) and I’ve found it up in top of my head more and more lately.  Not a style I like very much.  Easy, but…eh.

So, it is time for a change.  And the timing is good, indeed.  I need an author’s photo for my book jacket.  What better than a fresh new cut to help liven the page (insert large grin), right?

As I said earlier, my hair decided to behave extra nice, trying to sway my decision.  It worked for about two days.  It left me wondering if I should leave it as is.  But, no — my resolve steeled, I held fast to my plan — I am ready for the change.  Tomorrow is the day.

It helps that I have an incredibly intuitive hairdresser that I’ve known since before the dawn of time.  I have no qualms about going in and announcing “Barbara, chop it all off!”  She knows me, she knows my needs, and most importantly, she knows all the quirks of my hair, cowlicks and all.  I trust her implicitly.  I’ve had hairdressers in the past that have cringed, asking, “Are you sure?”  I know what I want…don’t mess with my mind!  I’ve already dealt with my hair messing with my mind — I do not need a hairdresser doing the same.  And if it doesn’t work out the way I plan, then, I’m glad my hair grows like the proverbial weed.  I’m pretty easy that way.

So tomorrow, a new style will emerge, preparing me for my new journey in life as an author.

Then, I set up the appointment for my photo shoot.

I’m getting excited.

Ready for a Contest?

I’VE STARTED A BIT OF A PROMOTION for my book…already — even though it will not be released until October, 2013.  I’m looking to you, my faithful readers, to help spread the word.  On my Facebook business page (click here), each Friday — starting today, I will post an Event, scheduled for the following Monday.

The weekly drawings will be held each Monday, until the release date, for a chance to win a signed, hard-bound copy of Secrets Beyond Scymaria.  Here’s what you need to do:
1) LIKE the Creations by djamesonsmith Facebook page and share with like-minded friends,
2) SIGN up here for the blog (Entries RSS found in right column)  so you can stay on top of the progress of the book, and
3) VIEW the Book Update entries and personal musings entries — found in the Categories list, also found in right column — so you will be ready to answer the questions posed each week.

There will be specific requirements each week (ie: make a comment in a specific blog or on the FB contest page, answer questions pertaining to the book or some of my blog entries…etc), so make sure you read everything

Alright…on your mark, get set —

See you on Monday!  Please don’t forget to share with your friends!

Secrets Beyond Scymaria…Almost There!

ALRIGHT…I’VE GOT MY WORK CUT OUT for me. (This post should have gone out before my last one, but that’s okay…I’m a little frazzled…can you tell?)

My teen beta reader agreed.  Definitely:  the second part of my manuscript needs to be split into two  — which is wonderful, but, it means I have some serious work ahead to make both “halves” work.  Three books for my series without having to stress too much.  I like that!

His enthusiastic comments (Facebook message receive on Tuesday) have buoyed my confidence nicely, thank you very much, Thomas!  I received his actual critique yesterday and started anew with my final bit of editing before I can submit it to the copy-editing team at my publishers.  I don’t need to come up with my book breaks yet, thank goodness.  I just need to polish up the flaws that the critiques pointed out — at least, the ones I didn’t already catch (and, there were a few — thank you, my critiquing maniacs!)  Then submit for the Pro-Edit…

I am enjoying this journey, with all of its up and downs and insane craziness (hmmm…that’s a wee bit redundant, but so appropriate…).  And it is far from over.  Professional editing will give me a tremendous edge, allowing me to in turning these pages into a fun and exciting series!  And once it’s in the throws of the publishing process, I will have the next two books to work on…how exciting!

It never stops.  But soon, I will be able to better control when I dive into the craziness and when I can pull back and relax.  Actually take time and spend it with friends — and work on my other loves…photography, art — and just catch up.  That will be nice.

But until then, I really need to get off the internet and back into my cave…I keep sneaking out.  Maybe I should bar the door shut (turn off the internet?).

Until then, have a blessed day!

 

Are Writers Schizophrenic?

THE GLOW OF THE MONITOR PRODUCED a haunting silhouette as she hunched over her keyboard.  The only sound, aside from the call of some bird far off in the night air, was the clicking of the keys as she furiously typed her thoughts.

From behind her, a lone figure leaned in, staring at the words appearing.  Amy’s long pigtails brushed her as she moaned, “Really?  Is that what you think?  You can’t say that.  Here — let me show you.”

Before she could protest, Amy pushed her hands aside and highlighted a block of words — almost an entire page, really.  With a glint in her eye and a flourish of her hand, it was gone.  Smiling, now, Amy typed.  It didn’t take long.

“Oh, much better!  Don’t you agree?”

Another voice chuckled, “Yeah, much better.  But I see another spot that could use some improvement.  Let me at it!”  He too brushed them aside and began tapping away.

Ty continued to type as these two looked on, mumbling now and then about the content.

The room became still as he walked in, all prim and proper in his dark purple, pin-stripped suit.  Everyone turned to watch as he approached.  Even in the dim light, they could see his attempts to  quiet his wild, blazing red hair.

The professor demanded, “Step aside!  Let me see.”  He peered at her words, glaring back at him.  A menacing sneer poured over his face.

“Preposterous!” he shouted….

See what I have to put up with?  My daughter says writers must be a bit schizophrenic with all the characters in their heads, constantly trying to manipulate the story…I’m beginning to think she’s right.

I am finishing up with my edit this week and will be sending it in for the professional edit.  I will be waiting in eager anticipation for their feedback…

In the meantime, Happy Fourth of July to you all.  Have a blessed day.