Staying On Track … and Memories

SUMMER SOLSTICE HAS come and gone, which means our long days will start to shorten once again. We still have delightfully long well-lit evenings and I should be jumping at this opportunity to dust off my camera and catch some twilight shots down by the ocean and in the hills. But instead, book deadlines have me tethered.

I dream of traveling–it’s been two years … waaay too long for me. This craving for travel is problematic, as it muddles my mind with lovely visions of Ireland, Scotland–and takes my focus away for the task at hand: editing and spinning my story further. Recently, there was news that the train that connects much of the western coastline is on the chopping block which made me yearn for traveling (by train) even more. It is so sad that train travel in California does not even get a second though from people.

Once, as a child, my poor mom was in charge of me (and my siblings) as we traveled by train to our new home in Southern California. My dad had to rush down there to start his new job, leaving mom with all of us–I think there were four of us at the time. I think they chose wisely and I am thankful this was the mode of transportation chosen. Putting all of us on a plane might have been faster, but I’m not so sure I could have contained my energy for even that short a time. The train experience was mesmerising for me. The rhythmic clickety-clack and gentle motion of the train made the trip more tolerable.  That, and the fact I had row after row of strangers to make friends with or that needed entertaining–oh, my. I couldn’t have been too bad, since we were not put off the train (giggle). It is a fond echo of a memory in my mind.  I’ve always enjoyed train rides and I made sure my daughter learned to enjoy them too. She was a lot more well behaved on the train rides we did with her than I was, I’m sure!

Traveling by train is something everyone should experience at least once in their life. Then you will understand the sadness I feel at the news of them cutting service to our area. I will not be able to take the train up the coast to Oregon or Washington to visit friends (um, I don’t mind planes, but if I am given a choice, I’d much rather travel by train due to the huge queues and all the waiting–things my body doesn’t like–when traveling by plane).

Trains allow you to wander around–truly stretch your legs out, chat with quite a few people as you move from your seat to the dining car or the observatory car … and there are no seat belts, no “air turbulence” that will keep you cross-legged if you need to use the facilities. It is a far gentler form of travel.

I’m praying that the train routes are saved from The (governmental) Ax … and now, I need to put aside these travel desires for a bit so that I can get my books edited and written.

Tell me, though–what do you think of train travel? And have you done any adventures on a train–or plan to in the near future?

I bid you adieu for now. Have a blessed Friday and weekend. The Fourth of July is literally just around the corner–what are your plans?

Blogging, Writing, and … Creativity

OH MY. BLOGGING IS FUN, but there are times … I want to make sure it’s not all “moans and groans” or so boring that you are unable to get through without dozing off. I certainly hope neither has been the case since I got serious in my blogging.

This week has been filled with challenges to carve out any time to write. It’s already Friday and the above is all I’ve managed to write in a week (insert eye roll …). I’m finding my brain is resisting any cohesive thoughts that can be strung together for a blog—there’s just too much “stuff” filling my head. I’ve been trying … I’ve resorted to taking my binder with my edit for the first book with me wherever I go in a feeble attempt to do some writing, whether blog related or not. The funny thing is, in the places I figure I’ll have plenty of time to work (the usual long waits at doctors offices, etc), I’m finding that I just get settled and I’m interrupted. Maybe I should bring work more often (giggle) since the wait times seem shorter when I have something I’m trying to accomplish. And places I “know” I’ll never have time, but bring it with me anyway … well, it seems I’m the most productive then. Go figure.

So … my first run-through of book one in my Secrets Beyond Scymaria series is finished (finally!), but I need to go through at least one more time (I’ve already begun) before I turn it over to my editor for a “second-pass” professional edit. This book did not get a real professional edit before it was published and I apologise to those of you that read it and found the errors. Now that I’ve a new publisher, Inknbeans Press will be republishing the “new and improved” edition—hopefully by this fall and book two (which has had a professional edit) should follow closely on its heels. This means all of my books will be with one publisher. This is a very good feeling for me and makes me want to do a happy dance. Perhaps by spring of 2018 I’ll finally have book four published—it was put on hold so I could get the first two books pulled from Xlibris and republished by Inknbeans. Sigh, and to be honest, it was on hold because my brain wasn’t working right for so long that I couldn’t muster any true creativity. That is now a thing of the past and I am finally eager to dive back into books four and five. I’m definitely doing a happy dance (insert humongous grin).

And, on top of all of that, Joyce Oroz (my mystery writer friend) and I have already begun doing book signings. Friday night we spend three hours at a local Starbucks hawking our books to coffee drinkers. It was fun. In the quiet moments, she and I strategised for upcoming book signings, fine tuning what was on the current agenda and adding yet another potential event to August.

So … seeing as this blog is already two days late, I’d better get it posted. Here’s the schedule (the link will take you to my business Facebook page):  2017 Book Signing and Appearances Schedule  Have a good Sunday and a wonderfully blessed week. I’ve got a quiet week so I’m hoping for a creatively productive week of writing! Until Friday, cheers!

 

Patience …?

HHMMPH! DWELLING ON THINGS you have no control over is terribly counterproductive. My Friday visit to the ER a couple weeks ago left me with tons of questions, some of which are being sorted out with a scheduled test and upcoming appointments. But I’m finding myself very impatient, wanting answers NOW. Ugh. Yes, I AM part of the “now” generation. I’ve tried very hard to shed that “layer” but it rears its ugly head now and again. Especially when I am frustrated.

I even had another visit to the ER a week later. A different “problem”, or so I thought. Turns out, probably the same issue: my spine is finally protesting all of the abuse I’ve given it over the years. The frustrating thing is, many of the symptoms are so close to what one would experience with a heart attack or stroke—so it’s not like I can simply brush it off and just get on with my life. It requires a trip to the ER (well, I’m getting a stress test to see if I really need to do that every time symptoms pop up—like I had on my last two visits).

It really is a nuisance. In the meantime, my neurologist has me doing physical therapy to help with the pressure on my spinal cord and he has me on a lifting restriction (no more than twenty pounds). Ugh. That certainly puts a crimp in my working around the yard. Well, I keep saying I need to hire a gardener … I do believe it’s time to make good on that “threat”. A housekeeper may be a wee bit more tricky since they want to come in and do a deep cleaning before they do routine weekly stuff. I’m going to need to have a little chat about tossing that requirement out the window from the get-go … (giggle) we’ll see how that flies.

With all my doctor visits and PT, I almost forgot to finish up this blog (oopsie). Matter of fact, I seem to be more forgetful (if that’s possible) of late—I forgot to take all of my usual meds yesterday. I think that’s a first. But, thankfully, even if the PT will be continuing, my doctor visits are slowing down and I can get back to living normally. Well, as normally as as one can expect for me.

In the meantime, I think it’s time I hone my “patience” skills (insert eye roll here). And, I need not forget who is truly in charge. I need to remember to “give it to God” …

Summer is just around the corner and this week looks like it’s going to be quite warm. May this weekend and the upcoming week be a blessing to you all.

 

Upcoming Events

Joyce Oroz and dj jameson smithWELL, IT HAS BEGUN … AND I’M NOT sure I’m ready for it (what’s new). Friday, June 23rd begins our (Joyce Oroz and yours truly) book signing and appearances. This first one is a low key event at the “new” Starbucks in Prunedale—in the Prunetree Shopping Center. We’ll be set up inside at one of the tables (yay … since weather has been awfully fickle lately. It was drizzly on Thursday—don’t want to get our books wet!). The next one will be up in San Juan Bautista at Jardines Restaurant in their beautiful garden, possibly on July 15—we’re still negotiating that one. Then over to LaSelva Beach at the library on July 29th.

Unfortunately, the Inknbeans Press’ annual get-together and “across-the-country” book signing (in September) in N. Carolina has been cancelled. Sounds like we out-of-town writers messed up and didn’t get our confirmations in on time. Our bad … and our loss. That one would have been fun. We’ll give it a go next year. And … the application for the October Harvest Jubilee in Salinas just came in, so I’ll be getting that filled out and sent in very soon—I’ll be able to display my art along with my books. I love it when I can combine the two loves of my life.

I’m trying to keep the Facebook business page up to date—in Notes, I’ve got a note titled: 2017 Book Signings and Appearances that has all of the dates, whether confirmed or still negotiating. I do need to update the list with the above mentioned items, so give me a couple of days to do that.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row (business & personal), mind my p’s and q’s (health-wise 😳)—trying to follow doctors’ orders … and survive another week (sad that it’s come to that, but hopefully “that” situation will be short-lived).

So, my dear friends, enjoy your Friday and the ensuing weekend and I’ll see you next Friday. May it be blessed abundantly!!

 

 

 

A Day In the Life …


 

MY FRIDAY BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY weekend was mighty busy. More than I bargained for, actually. It started with me wearing my “Homeowner’s” hat; taking a lawnmower in (hand to wrangle it into the back of my truck, then out again) for maintenance and then paying “bail” to get my weed eater/brush cutter sprung outta jail so I could do some serious work in the yard over the weekend.

Then I switched hats (after getting spiffed-up) and met my mystery writer friend, Joyce Oroz, for lunch up in beautiful downtown San Juan Bautista. Writerly hat donned, I was hoping to leave the grey skies behind as I headed inland, but apparently the grey extended its hand all the way into (and beyond) San Juan Bautista. As I walked the block and a half to the restaurant, I took inventory of my warmer weather attire, and I crossed my fingers, hoping we’d be eating inside at Jardines. Thankfully I didn’t find Joyce outside in the patio, but nestled nicely to one side of the Mexican restaurant’s indoor seating area. A pesky pain in my arm interfered with my high spirits a little bit, but after a lovely, filling meal, we chatted with the assistant manager about utilising their garden patio (dining area) for a book signing. He was quite sure something could be worked out, but would have to get back to us on Monday or Tuesday. We were happy with that and bade our good byes to the manager and each other.

My shoulder and arm kept hurting (I couldn’t figure out why) and by our departure was quite bothersome, so, before leaving San Juan Bautista, I rung up my family doctor to see if I could—by some miracle—be squeezed in … no such luck. They didn’t like the sound of the symptoms and since I could not be seen by them, their automatic (CYA) response was to recommend I go to the emergency room.

Sigh. Not happy with the recommendation, I did comply. But calculating the timing and my itinerary, I chose the hospital on the Peninsula over Salinas because it would be closer to my next destination … and if the worst happened (which I doubted), I’d be closest to my daughter—so much more convenient for her (and I prefer CHOMP to SVMH anyway). Another reason was I’d be more likely to make it to the event at Open Ground Studios since it usually took less time at CHOMP than at SVMH. Even with CHOMP being busier than usual, I made it out in under three hours—just in time for the event.

So, I spent some “quality” time at CHOMP, admiring the paintings hanging in their waiting room as I went through the “triage” of care, then was led into the inner sanctum for further evaluation. Kinda wished I’d brought my edit with me—time would have passed faster (maybe). I always feel like I’ve wasted the staff’s time when it’s a false alarm—but I am thankful it wasn’t the worst-case scenario (heart attack—I always have to consider it since I’m on blood pressure meds and have a wonky heart that likes to skip beats, then add an extra now and again). Instead, it was most likely a neck/nerve issue that I’ll have to address at a later date. (Drats!) Well, with Memorial Day weekend upon us, it was put into the back burner. I can’t read a crystal ball, but I do foresee more doctor appointments in my near future—several, in fact … plus a stress test (ugh). Sniggle and sigh … all in one breath.

With that out of the way, I was finally able to switch hats (Painterly) one final time and enjoy (mostly, since my arm still hurt) a wonderful evening with my fellow artist friends and the public that came to see the exhibition of art created in classes and by OGS members. I didn’t participate this year. It felt kind of weird not having any work displayed—other than the piece on the Co-Op Member’s wall at the back (along with my books), but I’m glad I didn’t—I would have been scrambling the last month or so, even more than I already had been! Time to let other artists get the spotlight—well deserved, too. I’m so proud of the amazing things that are created with the OGS walls.

By the time I got home, I was ready to crash and take some medicine that would work better than the Aleve (which gave me zilch relief). Saturday I awoke to no pain (the cycle was broken—yay!) and the day was spent recovering from the busyness of Friday. I didn’t even touch the weed eater—I’d planned on spending the day whacking away at my burgeoning weedy yard, but recovery was more important. The weeds could wait for another day. Monday was the first day I attempted using the weed eater … oh, my. I am so far out of shape—the vibrations did not feel good on my neck, so I laid it to rest in front of the garage … and have yet to pick it up again.

I think I’ve finally resigned myself to not doing any of the heavy work needed to bring my yard back into a more tidy form … instead, I’ll be making a call to have someone come in and do the work for me—this is a very hard thing for me to let go of. I love my gardening—even the hard stuff. Maybe I’ll have him out to work this weekend. Maybe I’ll have another story to tell. We’ll see.

I cannot believe it’s June already (insert serious eye-rolling here)!! Until next time, I’ll say adieu. Have a fantastically blessed Friday and weekend.