A Cause, A Purpose and A Piece of My Life

NEARLY EVERY MORNING, AS I GET dressed, I put three silicone bracelets onto my wrist for all the world to see. They are not color co-ordinated with my clothes: one is yellow, another is purple and the third is teal and white swirls. Nope. Definitely not. I’ve collected them over time and I really don’t care because they are part of who I am. If anyone asks about them, I say they are all about a cause, a purpose and a piece of my life.

If that piques their interest and they ask more, I explain:

The purple band is a reminder of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Memory Walk. Well, they don’t call it that any more, but that’s what it is. I’ve had this band for well over ten years. The walk is to bring awareness to a disease that is effecting more and more people–not only the individual with the disease, but those closest to them–as time goes by.

My dad had Alzheimer’s Disease, as did one of my husband’s aunts. I watched my dad lose touch; slowly he had more and more difficulties with simple daily tasks; his most recent memories disappeared, then more and more to the point he only recognized me some of the time–and only as someone he knew was ‘special’ or ‘important’ (his words) to him.  I was in his life most days, and I thank God for that. My brothers all reside a long way off and their lives were like any other persons–busy. They would visit as often as possible, but there was too much time away for my dad to remember them. They were strangers to him. I felt sorry that they were not able to see the delightful things, the childlike things he did. I have some wonderful memories from before he passed away.

So, this purple band is personal. Very personal. Most years, I walk in the Santa Cruz and/or Monterey “Walk to End Alzheimers”, held annually in September for Santa Cruz and October for Monterey. I’ll be doing both again this year. I’ll tell you more about it in another blog later this year.

The yellow band is a reminder of what I must do: write. It is for National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve had it for about four years. I do support them annually also, in addition to participating in their Novemeber novel writing frenzy. It forces me to put thoughts to paper daily–well, almost daily–for a solid month. It has been useful to help me create some good stories.

That brings me to the third band. My teal and white swirled band. It’s pretty new–less than a year old, but a lovely reminder of who I have been for quite some time: a writer, a blogger–and now, a published author. Secrets Beyond Scymaria is the on-going sci-fi series, rolling around in my head and I am constantly working to put it into words on paper. Book one is in print, book two just came back from the editor after a second round of editing (I need to polish a few points here and there…then it’s ready for the publisher), and I have book three to get ready for the editor and…well, you’ve heard this all before and it must be getting repetitious. Sorry.

So, my writing is part of my life, as is my art and photography–but I don’t have a band for that (hmm…maybe I should), so I like to think the artistic choice of colors and swirl of the three bands represents that.

There is one other very important part of my life that is not represented on my wrist “for the world to see”. I don’t need to. It is deeply rooted, interweaving all four–and so many more (family, for example)–aspects of my life. It is my love for God. It’s not just a go-to-church-every-Sunday kind of relationship. He’s my gyroscope. My stability. My reference point helping me navigate this thing called Life. I try very hard to have Him at the center of my life; at the center of each activity I do as I wade through each and every day. I’m not perfect at it because I am human. There are days that my life gets busy or I get grumpy…or tired…and I forget, but always, the moment I realize it, I draw open the door and invite Him back in to take center stage. Things always get better when I do. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect with Him at center stage…but it sure helps move through Life with Him there, at my side, ready to comfort me, celebrate with me, listen to me…even guide me, when I take time to listen.

So, a cause, a purpose and many pieces of my life, interwoven together like the colorful ribbons on a May Pole with God acting as the strong, anchored central pole. As I negotiate life, He stabilizes me as I weave, bobbing in and out and through situations, struggles, and triumphs, creating a beautiful multicolored tapestry called my life.

Right now I’m still just a ‘work in progress’ with loose threads running everywhere; incomplete. But, I know the craftsmanship. And it’s creator. I know it will be a beautiful sight when it’s done.

 

Seeking Reviews

AN AUTHOR’S LIFE IS SPENT AGONIZING over writing, editing, promoting and selling their book, wondering if it will appeal to the readers at large. Reviews can make or break a book in term of sales, since many people demand a review before they will even consider making a purchase.

To that end, dear readers, I have a request:  if you have purchased Secrets Beyond Scymaria, please consider writing a simple review to help others decide if it’s a book they (or someone they know) might enjoy.

I will even throw in a little incentive for you, in the form of a contest–the prize, you ask? How does a $25 gift certificate from Amazon sound? At the end of the contest, I will chose from all of those that post a review (I will be drawing names at random–whether a one star or five star review) between today and 31March, 2014.

All I ask is:

  • Please keep your comments polite
  • You may post your review as a comment here, at Amazon, GoodReads or on my Facebook page (in the pinned Event post at the top of the page)
  • Please, please, please–do not throw in any spoilers, but do tell them why you like the book or what you didn’t like about it
  • I do need to know you’ve posted somewhere, so please come back here and comment with the link–and make sure to provide contact information (your name and email)–or if you prefer more anonymity, go here to comment and you’ll be able to provide your contact info confidentially.

Please be aware that I may use all or part of your review for advertising purposes. I will use first name and initial of last name only. If you do not wish you review to be used in advertising, please advise in your post. As a writer, I am still interested in knowing what you think, even if it isn’t to be used as promotional material.

I will randomly choose a name and post the winner here on 3 April, 2014. So, go ahead. Pull that book out and get it read, then write a review. Let others know how you liked it.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It’s Official…

WELL, I’M OFFICIALLY crazy. Not only am I trying to do the promotion on book one (doing an awful job at it), but trying to get book two finalized and to the publisher, book three’s back story woven in and editing done so I can turn it into my editor, plus work on book four and bring it to completion…all of that so I can start on the other ideas bouncing around in my head while the editor does his editing thing. On top of that, I now a new love to explore.

My book’s characters are up in arms over this new ‘love’ in my life, protesting by filling my head with way too many ideas for any one person. It’s ready to explode.

My new love? Travel. Well, it’s not ‘new’, I just haven’t done much. My writing has come first for the last year. Everything else has taken a back seat. Until now. Now, I have finished with all my vacillating back and forth on when, how long, where and finally made my plane reservations, rounded up and confirming critter sitters and have a mile long list of the things I need to accomplish before my travel dates! Yikes!

I am looking forward to driving in the UK and Ireland–yes, the wrong side of the road…I know, but I have no problem with it–well, my daughter may take exception to that comment, so I’ll modify it: once I’ve been behind the wheel about ten to fifteen minutes, I’m fine. And, I’ll make sure I know how to put the car into reverse before Ieaving the lot this time. I actually had to call the car company to ask how to get it into reverse so I could pull out of a parking space. I’d forgotten about the possibility of a ring that needed to be pulled up during the shifting action. So few cars in the US have that feature. I take pride in knowing these things. Oh, so embarrassing!

I will be sure to keep you updated with a travel blog I’ll start before I leave. If you have aspirations of traveling alone, it could be informative–and surely you’ll at least get a chuckle out of my sometimes tongue-in-cheek comments and situations (see some of my previous blogs on my travel adventures…you will see what I mean). One should not be afraid to travel alone. I’ve had friends tell me I’m brave to travel alone. Balderdash. I’ve simply learned to travel smart, and not fret over the small stuff…and, there will be small stuff–guaranteed. I had a navigator the last time I drove…no navigator this time, so I’m figuring I’ll get lost more–wheee! I’ll see areas I hadn’t planned on seeing! (See? That’s the way to think when traveling.)

Oh, yeah…and I’ll try not to run over pedestrians. (Inside joke, for my daughter…sorry.)

I will also have my camera with me and will share my photos either in my blog or via my Flickr account (or both). Europe is an amazing place for photographers. The US has many awesome places, but Europe has the “age” advantage…everything is so much older over there. I love it. I love to just sit amongst the ruins and breath in the oldness, imagining the life as it was, way back when. And life is so differently compared to the US. Not necessarily better (though in some cases, yes), but definitely different. I’m all for differences.

Keeps things interesting.

I’m excited.

 

 

 

 

Turn Dreams into Reality

NOW, THIS IS A THEME I can truly put my heart and soul behind. Well, the whole theme title is “Turn Dreams into Reality at Your Library”, but it still holds true.

Though late in life (I am over the 60-year hump), my dreams are becoming reality and it truly is a thrilling experience. I would hope if I did more than hold onto my dreams–actually did something about it, the reality would have come much sooner. Only God knows the answer to that.

I do know it’s a wee bit early to start promoting the annual Teen Read Week, which is held in October, but my philosophy is one can never start too early for something that is worthwhile. There are many voracious teen readers in my little world, but I am fully aware there are many hundred times (and then some) more of reluctant or so-so readers that need a gentle urging to even pick up a book. Some flat-out refuse. They don’t see a need.

We need to change that. Parents need to get involved to help make the change happen. Friends, too. They need to know that somewhere out there is a book with their name on it, waiting for them to find it.

We need to find a way to get books in those teens lives. Books that they will fall head-over-heels in love with, so they can begin their journey to vast horizons. Horizons that will hold many more opportunities than if they read only ‘mandatory’ material and only for the purpose of passing a class.

That is what the Teen Read Week is all about: helping get books into the hands of readers. Helping readers (and their families) find resources; to help find the right kind of book that will trigger that desire to want to read.

Libraries get involved. Indie authors get involved. All in the hopes of helping readers find the right book.

If you have a reluctant reader, here is the link for Tee Read Week: http://teenreadweek.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

(P. S. I know the day is almost over, but I want to wish each and every one of you a delightful Valentine’s Day. I hope you are–or have been able to enjoy the day!

Next week, I’ll be back to the usual personal musings–but I do want to let you know, I did turn in the re-writes on the edit for book two (Warriors of the Forest) for the series–YAY! While I await it’s return, I’ll be working on finishing up book three’s back story so I can keep my editor busy with another edit–and/or, I’ll be working on book four, or the one that popped into my head yesterday. My writerly brain will not leave me alone.)

 

Just Thought I’d let you know…

WELL, I’VE BEEN BUSY this week. Editing, “housekeeping” for the business, taking care of critter needs (those pesky toenails just keep growing back), avoiding editing, errands, household chores…and more editing. Then there are the night meetings and classes have also kept me occupied–I’ve managed to work in a few a week–oh! And lovely, wanna-pull-off-the-road-and-just-watch-the-whole-thing sunsets…so beautiful! The weather has been ripe for beautiful sunsets and (though I’ve managed to sleep through them) sunrises. Makes me want to chuck all my chores and go traipse around taking pictures! But, that pesky edit keeps tapping me on the shoulder…

Central Coastal California Sunset

Central Coastal California Sunset, just started. Taken on the fly…

And my head has been spinning all week.

At center stage, I am stalled in the editing department.

I’m battling with myself about character point of view. Convention says, stay in one head per chapter…this is so hard as the action is so fast paced and I bounce back and forth between character’s thoughts–all the time…  Apparently, occasional obvious switches are okay…but I have too many. “No, no. Way too many…,” says my editor. For those of you that have read “Secrets Beyond Scymaria”, what do you think?

Sigh.

So, here I am…doing re-writes, which takes time. No mistakes like last time (well, at least not the same ones). I am not going to rush things this time. I’m going to do it right–but at this rate, I may not make my “Spring Release” date.  My already-paid-for trip to Wales means, perhaps a “Early Summer Release” instead. I’d much rather get a quality product out to my readers than rush (like I did with my first book) just so I can meet a self-imposed deadline.

Well, I will just have to see how it goes. I’ll keep you updated, I promise.

At stage left, in the wings, I have an upcoming book signing–on Saturday, March 29th, a simple affair at Crossroads Christian Church (1035 Rogge Road, Salinas CA) from 11am-4pm. If I can get things together fast enough, I will have some of my artwork (and perhaps photography) for sale…and maybe even do a storytelling for the kids. As it gets closer, I’ll keep you updated. Two months seems so far away–yet, not!

I need to roll up my sleeves and get out there, pounding the cement to get a few more book signing and book reading dates lined up…in between my editing (insert eye-roll).  I’ve ordered more books and need to pull together my “Secrets Beyond Scymaria” swag–bracelets, bookmarks, book plates (and I’m looking for some new stuff to add, too–wheeee!).

Never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

In any case, I promise to keep you apprised of all that is happening. If you’re a Facebook fan, you can also see updates at my business Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Creationsbydjamesonsmith–if you “Like” the page, then you will get automatic notifications.

Until next week, have a blessed time exploring what’s right in front of your nose.

A Conundrum

BEFORE I BEGIN THIS POST, I MUST announce: this is post #100 (doing a dance)! I began this whole endeavor in 2010 as an experiment, not really knowing what I was going to write about. It quickly (well, it took a year) turned into a tongue-in-cheek, informative travel blog, then I expanded from there. It’s been many things, chronically my thoughts and activities for the past three and a half years. It seems so long ago! To refresh my memory, I’ve been reading through a few of them and it has been entertaining to see where I was and how far I’ve come. Though I’ve not been consistent (my apologies), my posts have improved. So will my consistency–I hope!

I thank you, my readers–whoever and wherever you are, for bothering to take the time to read my entries. I hope you’ve found them entertaining and/or informative. Now, on with post number one hundred:

PASSIONS ARE WONDERFUL THINGS really. They keep you driven, moving forward. Challenged. I like that. But, when you acquire too many passions, well…problems arise.

They begin butting heads with each other, competing for my valuable time. Well, maybe not valuable, but precious–yes, since there are only so many usable hours in a day. And I find myself, with all this bouncing between passions, starting to lose momentum. Becoming disengaged from each.

This, I do not like.

Trying to find a balance between all of the loves in my life seems to be getting more difficult. My garden is in shambles. My photography is a mere shadow of itself, my art beckons and my writing, well…it’s demanding. And I did very little travel–none abroad–last year. That is added to the mix this year.

I’m excited, yet terrified.

How does one successfully juggle all of this without everything coming crashing down on one’s proverbial head? The conundrum: my travels will involve three loves: travel, photography and blogging (it’s been awhile since I’ve done a fun blog about travel). I will try to sneak in some promotional stuff too, visiting schools and libraries to make people aware of my book–both the one presently in print and the one that will (hopefully) be published this spring, before I head off on my sojourn.

Finding time to write (other than the blog) will get interesting. By the time I begin my travels, I will be eyebrow deep in editing my third book (if all goes well, it will come out in the fall) and still needing to finish my fourth. Oh, my! Will there be time (and enough focus) at the end of each day to work on the backstory and editing for book three? My editor will be waiting for it…patiently, I hope.

And my heart aches when I think about leaving my fur-babies alone for so long. No snuggling up with them, being purred to sleep, no amusing times watching the antics of my bunny, no wagging tail to greet me when I come back to rest my head for the night after a hard day of walking.

Yes, there will be plenty of that. Walking–that’s a good thing…and bad. When I’m on my own, I’ll be able to alter my schedule to accommodate my feeble knee…when I’m on the tour tromping around upper Wales, well, not so much. I’ll either have to opt out of the days activities or simply press on and make sure I have my Aleve, my clunky brace and some ice for the end of the day.

And thinking about my art…and my garden. Hopefully neither will languish too much in my absence. Art? Well, I can doodle on the road now and then, but my garden…that will be left in the hands of my neighbors and to the whims of Mother Nature. She may be very cruel this season (they’ve officially proclaimed that we are in a drought). I can tidy the garden up (it is a complete disaster right now from my neglect whilst editing all last summer and fall) in preparation for my departure, get the irrigation system in top condition and protecting the plants as best as possible. But, ultimately…I know I will have work to do when I get back–I cannot expect neighbors to put the TLC into it that I would. Hmm…perhaps I should leave it as is (groan–that hurts to contemplate!). No, I must tidy it up.

I do have faith that if it is to be, it will happen. Everything will fall into place. I know that I can’t just sit back, expecting it all to ‘just happen’–to go smoothly without some planning and work on my part…which adds to my juggling act.

Quite a conundrum, don’t you think? It’s never-ending.

Just like my books.

May your days be blessed. May they be problem free–or at least free of problems without solutions visible at the end of the tunnel…