National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

AAAH. IT IS NEARING THAT TIME, once again. Only a little over a month. November 1-30 is a time of Writers Abandon. Trying to cram 50,000 written words into thirty days. Sounds impossible, but really, that means writing an average of 1,600 words per day for thirty days. It’s really not that hard to achieve. And can be a wonderful time, if you allow yourself to simply write, with abandon. Yes, we all have commitments that keep us from fully engaging, but if you allow yourself at least an hour a day, you’d be surprised at what you are able to accomplish. Figure out a schedule you are able to keep, then stick to it. You are allowed to plan ahead, creating an outline to help you through the process before that auspicious day of Nov 1st. They are even allowing works in progress (WIP) to be included—you just can’t count the words you’ve already written prior to that Nov 1st date.

So, come on folks. Adults, teens, middle schoolers and even younger. Grab pen and paper—on your compute—and be ready for that day to roll around. Get a group of writerly friends together … or hunker down in a corner by yourself. Whatever works. Meet weekly … or daily … or whatever schedule you can work out and take the challenge. Turn off your internal editor (YES! It’s all about how many words you can write … not about the correctness) and write. Do a series of Word Wars (15-30 minutes of timed writing)—you’ll be amazed how much you can get written by doing that. Personally, I prefer the 15-minute Word Wars. The longer time allows my mind to wander too much … but try them both and see what works best for you.

If you don’t make it to the 50,000 words, it’s not the end of the world. Honest. It may be hard for those of you that are “win” oriented … but really, even if you aren’t an official winner, it’s still a win-win situation. You will have managed to put quite a few words on paper. Something you might talked about doing, but never managed to “find time” for … so, it’s a beginning. A beginning that you will hopefully add a middle and end to at some point.

If you do manage to get 50,000 or more words, you’re an official winner and NaNoWriMo has gifts for you! Some of them are pretty nice, too. Check it out at

So, folks … mark your calendars and start gearing up. It’ll be fun! Let me know if you’re planning on doing it—my NaNoWriMo name is djamesonsmith. Come by and say hi!

Oh … speaking of writing, I can’t leave this blog without mentioning that my newest book in the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series, The Scymarian is * L I V E * and available for purchase as of today. To quote Inknbeans Press in their promo, “Welcome to Scymaria. The secrets held within are vital to the planet, but not everyone can enter, and no one returns unchanged.”

I’m doing a happy dance … and you will find it at all the links below:

Inknbeans Press, Publisher
My Square Market (autographed books)
Barnes and Nobles link for The Scymarian is unavailable at this time. They do have the previous two, so I will make sure they get the third one also.

It’s Almost Time

OKAY … I’M COUNTING THE DAYS NOW—I’VE JUST HEARD from my publisher, verifying that we’re on schedule … and it looks like it’s just one week away before The Scymarian will be released—on Friday, 25 September, 2015. Wheee!

To say that I’m excited is a gross understatement. Can you see me doin’ a happy dance? … ooh, big time! It’s truly a mini-event for me, since this is the last bit of the initial story that I wrote, then split into three to create the Secrets Beyond Scymaria series. The story line has only just started to unfold, with new discoveries on each page … in each book.

Now the real challenge begins.

I’ve already managed to accumulate over 45,000 words for the next couple books. Right now I’m trying to find a good spot to slice the book … and then dive in, to add a few more elements to the first of the two books to create book #4—The Mischiefmaker. Then it will be time to do a serious edit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now, I’m simply going to bask in the joy of knowing that The Scymarian is just about ready for you to read. I’m hoping to have some of the books in my hands for my little foray into Steam Punk at the convention in Turlock—my publisher has promised I’ll have them. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be “steam-punking” the Dr. Who’s Sarah Jane Smith character (still working on it) that I plan to cosplay as … but I’m certainly going to have fun trying. So, if you happen to be attending the SteamHouse Steam Punk Conference, you just might see me there. Hopefully with a few new books …

My second Inknbeans Press blog piece is out today, to give you a bit more information about the new book. Short but sweet … and with a link for pre-ordering books (with free shipping). You can find the link to the blog piece here.

Have a blessed weekend. Stay cool—or warm, depending on where you are. And enjoy your weekend.

#SecretsBeyondScymaria (twitter)
SquareMarket-Creations by djamesonsmith



It Is A Journey …

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. AN ANNIVERSARY of sorts. Not exactly the kind one want to celebrate or plan a party around … no. I don’t knowingly keep tabs on the calendar, it’s just a feeling … or mood that seems to pop up, encroach on my life … seep into my mind, sucking the energy out of me.

Early in the week, I awoke rushing around trying to get ready for a bi-annual dental check up that I foolishly schedule for an absurdly early hour … every single time. I rushed off to the appointment, not knowing why I was so … so “draggy”. I decided to blame the heat of the day, which was already upon us (it made it’s way up to 93 that day—an outrageously warm day for our little corner of paradise) and the early hour.

But, after I made my way over to Open Ground Studio, with plans to actually create some art, I found myself lackluster. I couldn’t get enthused as I drug out the water colours and paper, setting up … preparing to let my artistic muse take over. I waited. I tinkered around, completely dissatisfied with anything I created. There were others in the studio, cheerful, chatting and making lovely art or working on the administrative end of the business. Their talking never bothering me—not one bit … I love the banter and stealing glances at their artistry (which is usually very inspiring). Then, somebody asked what the date was. Somebody else replied.

Aah. It started to sink in. Now I had the reason for my feelings. But, why was my mood making such a huge shift towards a darker side? It’s been nearly ten years since my husband passed away and my mind subconsciously remembers … and tries to drag me down a path I’d rather not go. For those that know me, I’m usually a very up-beat kinda gal … and this is so not me.

I thought, by knowing what the problem was, I could pull myself out of this awful funk. I kept dwelling on the issue, trying to figure a way out. But alas, it was not to be. All day, I stewed, feeling less and less productive, less cheerful … definitely not in my happy place. At least, not until I saw a post of Facebook. Apparently a friend posted something early in the morning … but I didn’t see it until after I was deep—very deep—into this “mood”. It was as if she’d posted it just for me. I contemplated it for a bit and had an “Aha” moment. Finally, I could smile. It’s all in the timing. Then, other posts followed—ones that give you the giggles or have you laughing out loud—breaking that dark cloud hanging over my head into a more manageable size. And I know each one was just for me (they may have been shared for someone else to see, but they helped me) … placed there for me to see—by God … to tap me on the shoulder, as a reminder:
“If you focus on your problem,
your going to be distressed and depressed.
If you focus on God,
you’re going to be at rest.”
(a Rick Warren quote)

Oh, definitely! Then a friend sent me a lovely little note today, telling me he understood what I was going through … that he too was dealing with a similar situation. That he, like me, felt that writing down his feelings helped. Something in what he said rang so true. All that we go through, our ups and downs, our joys and sorrows … it is a journey. This grieving—even ten years later—is part of a journey. Nothing more. No, I don’t mean to trivialize the feelings—they are very real, but it is part of a journey that we all must make at some point in our lives. How we cope, how we adjust, how we move forward … it’s all part of our individual journey.

So, now it is up to me to decide. I must decide how I will move forward through these days. Since it’s not just his birthday or his death, both happen to fall so close together—a double whammy of sorts—but also my mom and dad’s passing, too … they are all “reminders” that trigger something down deep. What should I do? How do I move forward in this journey? Celebrate—how? Remembering the good times? Deliberately plan on something for those special days? Make those days something to look forward to, rather than have them sneak up on me? Try to outsmart my unconscious mind? Turn the negative into something positive.

Aah … now, there’s a challenge. Something I can definitely sink my teeth into. There are a few more days I need to wade through, so I’ve already started putting some ideas into action—a walk at my favorite park, a lovely dinner out … I think it might just be the way to go.

I’ll have a little time to contemplate this in more detail before the next one comes around. I think I’ll be ready the next time it tries it’s sneak attack.

Do you have a plan of attack you’d like to share? I’m all ears.

Think Outside The Box?

I LISTENED TO A YOUNG MAN, PHIL HANSEN, SPEAK IN a TEDTalk on Wednesday–a post shared by a local writer friend on Facebook, which I in turned shared to my Creations page … and his words—and art—inspired me. God is good that way … and I thank Him all the time for the gems he places in my hands, helping me work out solutions to my current “problems”.

I’ve been bombarded with serious, not-gonna-budge deadlines—something I’m not accustomed to at all (a novel concept for this author) … I’ve always made sure I had “wiggle-room” for any self-imposed deadlines—and though I’ve met them all, they left me drained. I am so happy to have them all done. Happy to be one step closer to having The Scymarian in print—it’s so close it’s palpable (insert huge grin) … but drained of creativity, nonetheless.

After I transcribed scribbled notes for book 4-5 from this weekend, I chose to “chill” by cruising Facebook (not terribly productive, usually … just a way to unwind). Laughing at some posts … nodding or shaking my head in approval or disapproval at some of comments. Then I came upon this post. TEDTalks have some amazing speakers, so I knew I’d be listening to something interesting, but for this one … I perked up. Listened intently. I’ve actually played the ten-minute talk several times so it could sink in better. Take root. Some profound insights by this young man. Experience is a wonderful teacher. It was time well-spent.

In the talk, he discusses his disability and—as an artist—his initial reaction to it, then how he embracing his disability, thinking outside the box … and more importantly, finally finds himself drawing back into his limitations. Discovering that having “the biggest, the best” does not make you any better … or even more creative. He found that limitations, either external or internal, can actually allow for greater creativity. I can see how being limited allows the ability for limitless creativity. And it applies to art, writing … even everyday life. I’m hoping to put these concepts into action as I go through my daily life. But the one example he showed that I would really like to try is his story-on-a-turnstile—I’m intrigued … I want to see what it creates with one of my short stories. I’m sure there’s more to it than what I was seeing … I’ll not give away what his creative process is (I don’t even know the half of it, I’m sure)—you’ll need to watch the talk. It will be interesting to see what it produces.

Embrace the Shake. Seize the Limitation. Learning to be creative within the confines of my world. That is definitely the key … and I want to unlock my creative world. But, I know it will be useful in solving everyday problems as well.

Short but sweet this week, but inspiring. It was for me. Hopefully it will be for you. Please feel free to share with your friends!

Here’s Phil Hansen’s TEDTalk link. Enjoy.