Black and White

I’VE BEEN WATCHING FRIENDS ON FB posting black and white images as part of a 7-day black and white photo challenge. Beautiful images. Some telling. Some everyday life shots. So, I decided to do it on my personal FB page … and then decided to do it on my Painterly FB business page (didn’t plan that one quite right—wanted my pumpkins to appear on the 31st … but that’s okay).

Friday is the last day on my Painterly page. The personal page challenge was done on Monday. Now, so you don’t need to search my personal or Painterly page, I’ve decided to post the combination of personal and business images … and maybe add more—just for you. I’ve posted them in no particular order.

Please remember all of these images are my property. No copying nor sharing of any of them is allowed without my written permission.

Enjoy:

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge 7-Day Black and White Challenge

… and last, but not least and still six days away from 7-Day Black and White ChallengeHalloween (but it is now harvest time, so still works). Now, I need to add a few more from my archives … this is fun!

More Black and White More Black and White More Black and White More Black and White

More Black and White More Black and White

More Black and White … and that’s all folks.

I wish you all well this Friday … and over the weekend and the next week. Take time to pause and look around you. There is so much for you to see—whether it’s people watching, bird watching, savouring the beautiful flower in peoples’ gardens (or even at the local garden shop), feeling the wind in your face.

Take it in. Let it revive you. Enjoy. May this week be blessed and filled to overflowing with serendipitous (yes, I love this word) joy.

Yard Work and Accomplishments

ITS BEEN A QUIET WEEK, DESPITE the busyness of preparing for the book signing/art show at Harvest Jubilee in Salinas over last weekend. Sunday was supposed to be a “chill” day, but I had enough energy reserves, I decided to putter in my yard.

You really cannot truly appreciate the results of the work done in my yard by the three guys that worked their tails off a week ago. I’m embarrassed to post any photos to show how much was done, but let’s just say that all they had to deal with was the results of not being able to do much for about two years! There’s still tons of work to do, but things look so good, I’m thinking that alone has given me quite a bit of energy!

Our tinder-dry state (plus the urgings from CalFire to bring my property into compliance)—and the horrific fires we are experiencing both north and south of us are incentive enough to get things cleaned up. I need to call my gardener and find out when they will return to continue the cleanup process. In the meantime, I’m in the yard as often as possible, cleaning up what I can. And it’s nice to be able to really see the fruits of my labour. Gives me the incentive to get back out and keep working. Ooh, and it is a very good feeling. I’ve even taken the time to finally pot a few of the plants that have languished in their tiny containers. I’ve pulled others to safety from potential browsing by my resident deer (my bunny condo has been turned into a safety zone for my plants for now), placed a wire guard over a raised bed—after taking a ton of mulch and dumping it into the bed, adding a few onions that ended up “passed edible usage”, but were still producing greens (yum) and, well, in general I’ve been busy making the yard more presentable between weeding stints.

My yard is a work in progress—just like I am (insert huge grin …)—it will take many more trips to the dump (yard waste and trash), lots of fighting with poison oak (ugh … not me—unfortunately my gardener and his crew get that privilege). Oh—and there’s the pruning of trees (they must have no branches hanging down lower than 6-8 feet). Hand saw is not going to do the job—at least not in my hands (pout) …

I’m falling in love with my yard all over again. Wheeee! Even when I have it back to within CalFire’s guidelines … I’ll keep going, bringing it back to its former glory—including a koi pond … a real one, not the “temporary” small trough I have been using for sooo maaany years. That’s the plan … and I’m sticking to it! I’m so tickled with the progress that I’m still trying to decide—I’ve such a roller coaster of emotions about this—whether I put off traveling abroad one more year so I can get this vision of what the yard will be done … I’m so conflicted! I’ll have to decide soon. I will send my money in for the CIV tour and keep planning for the other parts of it. I’ll just need to keep an eye on the deadline for withdrawing from the tour so I don’t lose the money … again!

May each of you have an amazing weekend and may this upcoming week unfold serendipitously (sniggle … Word’s dictionary doesn’t like that word—too bad!)! Have a great week!

Don’t forget to check the updated events calendar (at the bottom of my Amazon Author’s page):
amazon.com/author/djjamesonsmith
Next event is Saturday, November 4, 2017 in Aptos, CA

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

THE INDIE AUTHORS DAY ON 7 OCTOBER 2017 was a great Indie Authors Day Program experience for me. When I signed up for it, I thought I was just going to be sitting in the audience taking in all the wisdom of others … I didn’t really realise I had signed up to be a panelist—to pass my wisdom (insert seriously huge eye roll) on to others.

If you’ve been following my blog posts, you know that once I’ve committed to something, I will not back out unless I’m seriously ill or on my deathbed. A commitment is a commitment. That’s all there is to it. So, this deer-in-the-headlights panicked for a few minutes, then remembered something I’d told myself so many years ago—”I can do anything I put my mind to …” (later, I’d added “… with God’s help”). I’d always told people that I loved a challenge (and this definitely qualified). Taking a deep breath, I took the challenge and had a blast—even if I

Meeting Authors

Yours truly and Linda Lamb

may not have been the most knowledgeable person on the panel. I met plenty of people, was able to help (with info and advice) a young teen writer a bit, plus I handled most questions gracefully and with a reasonable amount of knowledge (yay!) …

When it was over, there was definitely a sigh of relief—I’d done it and was glad I’d stuck it out.

Since my husband passed away, I’ve found myself in many such situations like this and each one has helped me grow—in confidence, knowledge and self-esteem (I had come a long way from my very poor self-esteem as a child and young adult, but still carry doubts of my abilities). It also reinforced my integrity. In this last “experiment”, when asked where my ideas came from, I actually dared to step outside the safety of just spewing facts, to announce that “my characters run the show” (something I’ve obviously said before) … but that those characters are, in fact, God directing my story the way He wants it to go, not where I want it to go. That was the first time I’ve ever said that—outside the relative safety of this blog site or to friends. One of the other panelists came up to me afterwards and said she loved that I stated that my story is faith (aka: God)-driven, and that it took courage to say it in front of a crowd. A little growth spurt. And that this particular panelist, whom I grew to admire for her wisdom and skill whilst she passed along information to the audience, made the observation the proverbial “icing on the cake.”

Life is too short to not accept these challenges that are thrown before us. Stepping outside our comfy little world helps stretch our skills and confidence. I used to hate talking in front of people—we had to do it in my 6th grade class all the way through high school—I became a shrinking violet … stuttering, mixing up my words. Horrible. Yet, as a fourty-something mother, I finally managed to engage children by creating spontaneous short stories in front of them (prior to this, I had an awful time even reading stories aloud to my daughter—I didn’t want my dyslexia to show what an awful reader I was.) “Oh, they’re easy to talk and read to,” you say … um, I disagree. Some of them can be pretty tough critics. But I learned by challenging myself—one little stepping stone at a time, till eventually, I was able to stand up in front of larger groups … and larger … until I, heart in my throat, stood up in front of a bunch of seasoned authors a couple of years ago and read a selection from my first book. I was scared to death that I’d mess up in my reading and forgot to mention the title (such a basic—eye roll here) … and that my humble story wasn’t good enough for this awesome collection of people. I didn’t die, or even melt into a puddle on the floor. I made it through unscathed. Rattled, but unscathed. And, discovered many of them even enjoyed the story. Another little growth spurt.

So, my friends, don’t cloister yourselves—take on challenges. Perhaps small at first, but allow yourself the luxury of experimenting with larger challenges. And larger still. Try new things. Travel—with friends or on your own—it’s a awesome experience— and “grows” you in so many ways (check out the bogs I’ve written about traveling with people and on my own). Start writing that book you keep talking about.

As one shoe maker states, “Just do it” … never let failure of a challenge defeat you. It’s simply a learning tool to help you do better the next time.

So, until next week, I bid you adieu—have a blessed week. For the locals, perhaps you would be interested in stopping by Compass Church in Salinas on Saturday, 14 October for their annual craft fair—Joyce Oroz and I will be set up (against the south wall in the main building) with her mystery series and my fantasy series … plus my photography, photopolymer etched prints and other bits of art.

Harvest Jubilee 2017

National Novel Writing Month 2017

YES, IT IS THAT TIME OF YEAR again—literally just around the corner (yikes!)—well, four weeks away to be exact, but the way my timeline seems to fly, it might as well be  NaNoWriMo 2017 Projecttomorrow (sniggle). I’m wanting to get my book five finished pronto, so what better way than to be in a one-month pressure cooker? (click on image to see the whole thing)

I hope it works, because I’m so close to finishing the edit on book four (doing a happy dance—I know y’all are saying “It’s about time!”) and I’d like to have book five roll out (published) no more than six months after book four. I can’t say why (spoilers!), but there’s a good reason … honest.

For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo (the acronym for National Novel Writing Month), this is an annual online event held from November 1-30 and the goal is to write a novel—50,000 words—in that allotted time. It spills over into the real world in the form of writers and writer-wanna-bees (NOT meant—in any way, shape, or form—as a derogatory statement) meeting in groups to encourage each other, answer questions and create challenges to help move each person closer to the 50,000 word goal.

So many people have told me they’ve got an idea for a story—when they say that, I tell them to stop putting it off—get it on paper (or in digital form). A little bit a day. But I also tell them about NaNoWriMo, since it’s an excellent way to dive into writing.

For the uninitiated, 50,000 words seems daunting. But if broken down into smaller “bites,” that is 1,667 words a day, which is only a little over 208 words an hour (for 8 hours a day)—or 417 words per hour for four hours a day. Now, that’s not so hard, is it? And if you feel you have no clue where to start, NaNoWriMo has a page just for you—Pep Talks are inspirational letters written by well-known authors during NaNoWriMo just for you. They’ll be delivered to your NaNoWriMo inbox throughout NaNoWriMo season, ready to inspire you, motivate you, and keep you writing all month long. Sooo … stop draggin’ your feet and check it out!

NaNoWriMo changed the rules a couple of years ago, making it an awesome tool for those of us in the middle of a manuscript (a work in process—WIP) that needed a little boost to take it to the finish line. Instead of something completely new, they allowed writers to start where their WIP “ended” … and made it easier for those writing poetry, too—though I’m not terribly familiar with those changes since I seldom play with poetry.

For those of you that are interested in giving it a go—you do know … you do not need to make that 50,000 word goal to benefit from this month-long exercise—you can click on this link (to NaNoWriMo’s site) to check it out. The simple act of starting to put your thoughts on paper is an amazing feeling. You can create an outline, choose characters, situations, etc. prior to November first (that is permitted)—or like me, just start writing (I’m what they call a Panster—I write as the story comes to me … outlines don’t work with me), but don’t start to write the story until midnight of October 31st! Anything written before that time cannot be counted (that includes those of us with unfinished WIPs).

Sign up today. Start planning now. Read the website’s helpful hints … and above all, have fun with it—explore your mind for ideas.